When Curious J was a baby, it seemed that she didn’t enjoy being cuddled. She wasn’t snuggly the way her older sister had been, and I didn’t feel the same overflowing affection from her. It bothered me a bit, but I consciously decided that no matter how much or how little I felt a return on my hugs and kisses from her, I was not going to back off on physically showing my affection for her.
So, she got hugged and kissed and snuggled as much as every baby should be, even though she didn’t often seem to appreciate it. But now, months/years later, it seems that all of that continuous physical affection really did make a difference.
Not only does she now willingly give hugs and kisses to her family members (she often says, “Momma! Kiss! Hug!”), not only is she almost overly-affectionate to her friends (not every friend of hers, nor those friends’ mothers, want to be kissed on the lips!), but she also often gives hugs and kisses to her dolls and toys.
Two examples: J has been playing with two of her big sister’s plastic Disney Princess dolls (Sleeping Beauty and the Little Mermaid – both willingly given to J to play with by her big sister, since those two princesses hair easily falls off!) When J and I left the house yesterday to go to her art class, I told J, “Say goodbye to your princesses.” So, she ran into the toyroom, put her princesses on the chair, kissed and hugged each one, and then came running back to me. 🙂
In another example, this morning I took a shower while J played in the bathroom. She got some squirt toys out of the bath toy bag, including a yellow duck, a surfing hippo, a blue duck, and an elephant. She lined them up neatly on the side of the tub, and left them there all day. Tonight, as the girls were in the bathroom brushing their teeth, the toys were still lined up, so I told her to say goodnight to her toys. So, to each one, she said, “Good night _____ (duck), kiss [followed by a kiss], hug [to which she always says, “Oooh” in a crooning voice].” She did that routine with all four toys, as her father and I watched with adoring smiles on our faces.
I used to worry that J wasn’t affectionate and didn’t appreciate affection. I’m glad I kept kissing and hugging her anyway, and it’s nice to see that affection apparent and overflowing onto the people and objects in her life.