My dad was never very affectionate with me. He never showed any emotion and never made me feel loved. I sat up crying at night wondering if he ever wanted to have a son at all…
Just kidding. I’m a horrible liar. Reverse it. None of that is true.
My dad assaulted us with snuggles in public. He rubbed our shoulders like prize fighters. He made every effort to dispatch kisses, snagging us into an embrace without relenting when requested. But my father’s forte was tickling me so much and so painfully with his piercing fingerblades in my bare armpits that I thought I might actually have a heart attack. I wondered if he ever knew that the tears in my eyes were a brackish water of laughter and shrieks from his tickles. My brother and I would beg for him to stop but he never listened. But that’s how he rolled.
And I really miss it. Weird.
So, in my father’s honor, I’ve started unleashing my own version of PDA carpet bombing on that son o’ mine. I love my son. I probably dote on him “too much”, whatever the f*ck that means. I’m not exactly effeminate in how I deliver it and I respect his desire to be his own man when he says “no”… unlike my dad. We used to have this thing where I’d see him come home and I’d yell at him, “Hey Finn, where’s my hug you little monkey?!” He’d come waddle-skipping over and we’d hug it out. We had great hugs. I’d go in for a neck crease sniff and kiss his clammy hair. To a dad, there’s nothing better than a toddler covered in sweat and dirt. It means our kid played and got dirty like a pro, a job well done that day.
But I have to tell you, for the past 19 days I’ve gotten no hugs and no kisses from my little Finn. It’s putting my heart through a meat grinder. I’m getting an emotional ass-beating from a little guy who’s not even two years old. But don’t you worry about me. I’m not going to go ugly-cry in a corner somewhere. Somehow, I’m now hallucinating that he’s lost that lovin’ feeling for me. He can’t be bothered with me anymore. He thinks I smell. Something. Maybe, I’ve somehow pissed him off. I thought that stuff started happening much later, say 10 years later?
I’m sitting here, procrastin-eating about what I can actually do about it. How do you confront a less-than-two-year-old about his waining love for his father? I’m sure some self-help book would tell me to write a letter to him and burn it in a pyre of his stank diapers. Maybe some therapist would have me do a puppet show with Elmo and Cookie Monster “expressing themselves” about conflict resolution. Then, there’s the tried and true method of Irish unexpressed aggression: the “sit and stew” technique.
Now, before you throw everything at me all at once just know that someone has already said “it’s a phase that he’ll grow out of” and went on to say “just wait until he turns three, then he’ll only want his dad” — alright, I guess I can wait it out for ANOTHER YEAR. My god. What if he never wants to be close with me again?
Sometimes, like a science experiment, I’ll tell Finn to give his mom a kiss, something I know I can’t resist, and he goes for it like he’s been trained in the military to lavish love on my wife. Last week I posted a quote from my wife about the different roles of moms and dads. He’s taking it totally literally.
To round it all out, he’s begun defying my polite requests, saying “no” to eating various foods and staying up way past his bedtime. It’s like he wants me to become the 1950′s authoritarian dad I said I would never become. No closeness, just pure leadership and stressing being an effective person. I don’t want to be the ‘Dads Don’t Give Hugs, They Give Pats On The Back’ dad. I refuse.
What do you think I should do? I’m always up for a good enhanced interrogation technique at this point. Just make the hurt stop. I feel like some snuggle addict jonesing for a fix. Give me my hugs back.
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