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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Do You Kiss Your Children?

Benedetto was holding forth the other day on the subject of kissing.  (No, not that kind of kissing.)  He was talking about parents and children.

My husband distinctly remembers going to sleep-away camp at the ripe old age of 13.  He recalls that when his parents dropped him at the bus for camp, he kissed both of them goodbye, as any good Italian boy would do.

“Ewww-!” he entered the bus to the jeers of the other teens.  “You kissed your father!”

Benedetto couldn’t figure out what their problem was, and what should be so strange about kissing your parents’ cheeks.  For their narrowmindedness no doubt, the other campers were struck down with some mystery plague that week, falling violently ill, which meant that Benedetto had to carry heavy buckets of bleach and swab the decks several times each day.  Not his idea of fun.

That was his first and last foray to camp, and somehow it all revolved around kissing one’s parents.

Do you kiss your children?

It was difficult for Benedetto when he first met the girls.  They were friendly enough and chatted with him.  After court, he had to fly out of Russia the next day, but asked our driver to take us to the orphanage so that he could announce to the girls that they were officially part of our family.  He brought them flowers and chocolates and they were oh, so proud.

But when he went to kiss them on the cheek, Mashenka, age 11, drew back.  Understandable.  For all intents and purposes, he was  a stranger, an unknown quantity.  That would change within the first few days or weeks, but for now, I was the parent of choice.

Many adoptive parents have complained to me about the clinginess and calculated mannerisms of children newly home.  Just as Kremlin-watchers could easily determine who was “in” and who was “out” by their physical position in relation to party bigwigs in the Red Square May Day reviewing stands, so it was in the adoptive family.  Whomever held Mama’s hand when walking, sat next to Mama, asked Mama the most questions, or monopolized her time the most, won.  They were the heir apparent and thus, the jockeying for position began even more in earnest.  The clinginess turned into crazed clamoring for attention.

“Don’t push anyone off the bench,” I instructed while each child made room for me and pushed their partner right off the opposite end.

Sibling rivalry x pi to the hundredth power.  Physical position and proximity meant power in the adoptive family.  The day would come when they would push me away and seek to supplant my relationship with my husband.  It had happened to many families before.

“They’re smothering me!” groaned parents who felt their mates being figuratively pushed off the park bench, so the anxious adoptee could have the parent all to him or herself.  Triangulation, it was called.

With just one adopted child in the beginning, it wasn’t very bad.  Our first son slept with us for so long I lost track.  If co-sleeping and his wanting to be close to us were the biggest of our problems, we should be so happy.  All was fine… until other kids arrived.

Frequently, there were three children plastered to my pair of arms, stepping on top of me, tripping me, and trampling me to achieve the closeness they craved.  A Norman Rockwell painting it was not, but it’s what they needed.  They longed for the favor of my gaze to fall upon them.

“Take turns,” I laughed as one grabbed hold of my purse, instead.  Better to laugh than to cry.  Often they would hold my hand and kiss it.  How could I hold that against them?

I remember when our first son came home, he did not know how to kiss.  He held his lips out, but there was no pucker power.  The kiss was kiss-less.

I held out my puckered lips and showed him how to kiss the back of the hand, making a big “SMACK!” sound.  He giggled.  Then I kissed his cheek with a big smack, and he did likewise.

After that, he loved to kiss.  Obviously, nobody had ever taken the time to kiss him before in all of his 7-1/2 years of life.  So sad.

Parents, kiss and hug your children.  Let them seek out your warmth and affection rather than another’s.


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6 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Julianne says:

    I kiss my babies right on the mouth. And on the nose. toes. arms. cheeks. back. neck.

    I still kiss my parents. And my parents kiss my girlz just like I do..We are kissers. BUT, my maternal grandparents always thought it was weird that my sis and I kissed my dad when we were tweens and teenagers. They made us feel awkward about it when Dad wasn’t there.. My girlz love sugar. They NEED to give at least 2 kisses before they go to school each day. They need one of those kissed in combo with a kiss..You know “HUG/KISS”… Honestly, the first thing I taught each baby was how to kiss..Both learned, “KISSIE” and would lean their faces to mine..Ooooh..I am going to reblog this and add my family take on it..Thanks for this!

    • avatar admin says:

      That’s beautiful, Julianne, that your girls know they can come to you for warmth and acceptance. Isn’t that what we all need from our families?

  2. avatar Sybil says:

    Kissing was always a natural and normal part of my own family and extended family growing up. It included the father’s and sons when they were adults too. My husband’s family only kissed hello and goodbye with the little kids and that was about it. Evidently my husband felt his upbringing in the kissing department was not to his liking, and he became a kisser. Everybody gets kisses including our son and daughter in laws. One more thing is phone calls. Our older children are already married middle age adults. My husband makes sure he talks to them everyday if only to say hello and how are you. He says, “I want to hear my children’s voices everyday of my life.” You gotta love a Dad ike that.

    • avatar admin says:

      Oh, I like that, Sybil. It makes me feel like much less of a stalker-to-be when my kids get older. Just call them every day-! That’s beautiful. There are only so many houses for sale in the immediate environs of my house….

  3. avatar Greg says:

    We get the privilege of kissing our 17 year old bio-son’s forehead. With our 15 year old bio-daughter we get lip kisses in groups of threes…..kiss, kiss and KISS. With our newly adopted 15 year old daughter (almost 5 months home now), we get plenty of synchronized cheek kisses….it’s so “European”. We’ll take what we can get! But one thing is for sure, nobody leaves the house or goes to sleep (or wakes up) without their own individualized kissing routine. (insert cute kissing icon here please) Haha

    • avatar admin says:

      Too cute, Greg. Good for you for being able to keep it all straight. In our house, we’d probably have to come up with a duck, duck, goose routine…. These are the love rituals that are not to be missed.

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