Taking Time to Enjoy Tweens’ Hugs

My soon-to-be 11-year-old daughter has a poster in her room featuring Olaf from “Frozen” with the saying “I like warm hugs.” I’ve been thinking about that lately – probably because of the early winter blast where we live – but also a bit in appreciation of how my kids like warm hugs, too.

hugBack in August, I took a job in the middle school’s cafeteria to earn a little extra money and get a discount on the kids’ tuition – that experience itself could be its own blog post – so I have the opportunity to see both of my kids during their school day. Without fail, my fifth and sixth-grader come up to me at some point during the lunch hour and give me a hug. I may be entering student ID numbers into the computer or keeping an eye on the kids dumping their trays, but Michael and Alli will both wander over and give me a hug. I’m not the only parent who works or volunteers in the cafeteria and it struck me recently that I’m the only one who gets this daily show of affection. Some kids don’t even acknowledge their parents besides a little half wave.

After the first week or so when the kids were settled at their new school, I thought the hugs would stop. They would feel self-conscious in front of their friends, but no the hugs keep coming. I’ve had a fleeting thought of suggesting to the kids that maybe giving me a huge hug in front of their entire grade may not be the coolest thing in the world, but then I stopped myself. As kids enter the teen years – Michael is less than six months away from being an official teen-ager! – I wonder if they’ll no longer be interested in giving me hugs in front of their peers because they’re embarrassed or don’t want to be called a “baby.” While I hope that doesn’t happen, I need to slow down and appreciate these warm hugs.

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MaryBeth Matzek

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