Amused, my mouth smiled on one side as I watched Sammy move his mouth up and down, pretending to sing, staring at the ceiling, then at his friends, and then at his fingers. The rest of the boys seemed to have practiced the same distracted routine, only in a different order. The little girl next to him was animated, engaged, and singing each word in tune. Her curly pony tail swung behind her as she swayed to the music. The rest of the preschool girls seemed to follow her lead. The boys wiggled and squirmed, the girls watched the teachers and copied their hand movements.
For most of the song, I hardly noticed the words. The melody reminded me of a song that Lucy and Ethel might have performed in one of their Vaudeville skits; slightly grating if not for the sweet voices singing along. Andrew was on my lap playing his Leapster. It was a little too loud, and Sponge Bob kept whistling in my ear, so I was fumbling for the volume control. Noticing the stylish preschool moms surrounding me, I was also worrying about my boots, and wondering if I had coordinated them well with my outfit. I'm still not sure.
But at some point during the song, the distractions faded. I began to listen the sing-songy lyrics, and I focused in on my middle son. Suddenly I found myself considering the words. "Do I hug him enough?" I asked myself.
I carry Andrew constantly. I hug him before I put him in his carseat. I give him a squeeze when I lift him out. I cuddle with him at night to help him fall asleep. He plops down on my lap, whether I am ready or not.
My oldest son Aaron has always been naturally affectionate and comes to me for hugs, even when I don't come to him.
But Sammy? He used to wait for a hug before school in the morning, but now he runs off, happy to see his friends. When I pick him up from school, he runs past me to the playground. He can put on his own seatbelt. As I reflected on my daily routine, a realization sunk in: I need to be more affectionate with my middle boy. Days slip away too quickly.
So I have been looking for opportunities to reach out; for moments to tousle his hair, or squeeze his shoulders, or give him a kiss on the cheek. I don't want to miss him in the busy routine of life. I want him to know, and to feel that he is loved.
The next morning when I woke up, the rest of the house was still quiet and dark. I could hear the heavy breathing of sleep and curtains were still covering the windows. I found Sammy sprawled out on top of his red and blue plaid comforter. I lay down and curled up next to him. I squeezed him tightly to me, kissed his soft cheek, and whispered, "Wake up Sammy bug!" And before he could pry his eyes away from dreams, he smiled. He smiled huge.
As the days continue, with school drop-offs and pick-ups,with treks to the grocery store and times at the park, I keep looking for those moments.
And I keep finding them.
"Four hugs a day, that's the minimum. Four hugs a day, not the maximum. Four hugs a day..." (And yes. that song was in my head ALL week!)