Bebo Norman

POSTED: 01/22/10

AGGRESSIVE AFFECTION



I took Smith to school this morning. He’s my 2½-year-old. I had a chance to hang for a little while with his teachers because this morning was “Donuts with Daddy Day.” Clever alliteration, huh. KRISPY KREME Donuts with Daddy Day, to be specific. Except all the dumb little school kids ate every last one of the donuts before I had the chance to snag one! (Just kidding about the kids being dumb, by the way. I mean, they may be dumb, but I don’t know them well enough to know that for sure yet. Okay, so just kidding about the fact that they may be dumb as well. But not really). ANYWAY, I love my son. Like crazy. Partly because he’s crazy. He’s just all boy – climbs literally everything climbable (or not), loves to wrestle with me or our little white fluffy pansy dog, Otis…doesn’t make any difference to Smith as long as he gets to wrestle; he gets hurt ALL the time but he’s still really tough, shins always all bruised up, and he’s already been to the hospital twice for a busted lip and a busted chin. The thing is, we run our household with pretty much only three rules for our kids: 1. First time obedience, 2. Have a “Right Response”, 3. Be kind. And it’s a pretty beautiful thing to watch a kid as wild and as “all boy” as Smith is, respond to those things. There aren’t many things “off limits” in our house – jumping on the couch like a trampoline is one of our favorite pastimes – but the things that are off limits (mostly to prevent the loss of limbs or falling from egregious heights) REALLY ARE off limits. And we expect for those limits to be honored. And what’s really crazy is to see that a 2½-year-old can get that…I mean REALLY get it. Now don’t get me wrong, he’s still a 2½-year-old and there are, and always will be, LOTS of “teachable moments.” Our hope is to spend more time in our house training our children than disciplining them. So, for all Smith’s craziness and wildness, he’s also very obedient and has a sweet, sweet heart. I think the pull between those two poles inside of him will be the challenge of his life in a lot of ways. And hopefully he’ll understand one day that they are not mutually exclusive…that, in fact, they feed and perpetuate each other in a beautiful way. For now though, he still struggles to strike that balance and, as his teacher and I laughed about this morning, his hugs sometimes turn into tackles and his kisses sometimes look more like head butts. As she said, I’ve never seen a trace of anything malicious in those moments, but sometimes his excitement just manages to get the best of him in fits of what she sweetly defined as “aggressive affection.” I laughed and told her that she was being WAY to kind in her assessment. But then I thought, what a beautiful phrase. What a beautiful idea. And I found myself wishing all of the sudden that I could find that aggressive affection again, even as a grown man – that I could let loose my grown-up “guardedness” and self-protection to maybe go a little more overboard from time to time, a little too far even, in letting my affections be known.

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