Ever since my daughter has come home from an extended absence away at school, her ten-year-old brother can’t get enough of her. He sits too close, he leans on her, he teases her, he pokes her, and just now, he jabbed her in the eye. It was an accident of course. He was showing her some neat trick, and his thumb got away from him.
I can remember when he was born, and she was the ten-year-old who couldn’t keep her hands off him!
We’ve explained about personal space. She’s told him she has a bubble around her, and he should stay out of her bubble. But the yelp that just came from the eye poke lets me know that the message hasn’t gotten through.
So, plan B. Maybe if we demonstrate to him what it feels like for someone to just keep poking and jabbing after you say stop, then he’ll understand. So I call the whole family, and we inform him that we’re going to poke and tickle and jab him until he yells for mercy. So, we all jump on him like a chicken in the barnyard. And after a few silent moments, with no yells for mercy, we call off the dogs, and see if he’s okay.
Did he pass out from the hysteria? Did we scar him for life? For a moment I’m afraid that my Andy Griffith sage moment has become a Roseanne Barr bully-fest.
But, no. It wasn’t a mommy-fail moment. He’s grinning like Tom Sawyer, with the coins in his pocket, and the picket fence all painted. It still hasn’t dawned on me. Surely he couldn’t have enjoyed that.
[pullquote_left]So, I ask, “Doesn’t that bother you when someone keeps poking you and touching you?”[/pullquote_left]
“Huh-uh.” He grins wider.
“You liked that?” I asked incredulously.
He nods his head in delight.
I thought he would understand, if we made this a personal lesson. But I was the one who learned something important.
The pokes and prods were his way of saying he needed some attention. And the best way he likes attention is physical touch and quality time. He was saying, “Connect with me.”
Now, several times a day we just dog pile him, and he loves it, and hopefully in between times, he’ll not feel the urge to poke and jab so much.
His future wife will thank us. But maybe not, because in marriage things are a bit different.
Have you ever felt like your husband was groping and grabbing his way to a glare and a grimace? Have you ever wanted to just slap his hands away? Have you ever wanted to lecture him to keep his hands to himself? Does it seem that’s all that’s on his mind? Have you ever felt like an object? Have you ever just wanted him to leave you alone? Has he ever seemed like a ten-year-old teasing and prodding and cajoling?
He’s crying out for attention! So give it to him. He needs to feel you close. He needs to have your attention. He needs to bond with you, and the best way he knows is by exerting and stretching his muscles, and feeling you close to him face to face, flesh on flesh, body to body.
[quote]So, even though physical touch might not be your primary love language, don’t deny him the joy of interacting with you in a way that delights him.[/quote]
Give it to him.
Go to the mat.
Roll around with him.
Wrestle with him.
Don’t worry that it will lead to something else. Tell him in advance. “I am only wrestling with you for five minutes! When the bell dings, we each go to our own corner of the bed.” (You might decide to go another round with him!)
Physical touch. It’s very romantic!