‘Touchy Feely’ and ‘Cuddly’ are words that would never be used to describe me.
My parents say- and I think my father was roped into saying this by my mother, because he’s such a sweet and gentle man- that when I was born, they were so excited to have me (I’m their first child) that they dreamed of all the ways they were going to hug, kiss, and cuddle me (like you would a doll or teddy bear, I suppose. I was to be treated as one would treat a doll or teddy bear. Sigh).
That idea was quickly thrown out the window. By me.
Mum narrates, ‘we would walk up to the crib to pick you up, and if you weren’t hungry, wet or tired, you would put up your elbows in our direction in a “leave me alone” kind of action. We quickly learned that you didn’t want to be held. We would sit together on the bed and just stare at you. It was torture. Maybe that’s why we had Tawi soon after (Tawi is my sister, only 14 months younger), because “this baby isn’t working” we concluded’
Its sad, but true. And I didn’t know I was like this until many years later when I started dating. I would find myself extremely irritated at my boyfriends all the time. Then my mother shared this story with me and I finally had an answer.
Fast forward to today. I have my gorgeous husband and we’re sitting on the couch watching a movie. He leans on me or takes my hand. I allow my body to be leaned on and my hand to be held because I know the movie will not last forever. I will not be stuck in this leaning, hand holding situation for the rest of my life. He will eventually need to go to bed, or work. Or Timbuktu.
Then comes our sweet Kendi. She is the cuddliest person (in terms of baby structure) that ever existed. You just see those rolly-polly thighs and those chubby cheeks and you want a hug. But Kendi is not a cuddler like her father, or for that matter, her grandparents. She’s exactly like me. How do I know? I was home with her 18 months after she was born. We know a lot about each other, Kendi and I. And I know that I used to sit and hold her for hours- she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. But after a while, she would start to fuss. Whenever I put her down after that, she would be fine and could carry on sleeping or talking to Opuk and Tiga (her toys that would hang in her carry cot).
Then, Kendi came and woke me up this morning with her usual whispered (or yelled), ‘Mama, Mama’ while gently stroking my arm. She climbed onto the bed and I sat up and we were kind of just sitting there in companionable silence. She suddenly turned to me and said, ‘Mama, tapit’ and pushed my hand away. I hadn’t realized I had been rubbing her back the whole time.
‘Oh mos (sorry)’ I murmured. And went to cry in the corner.