Aggressive Affection

I took Smith to school this morning.  He’s my 2½-year-old.  I had a chance to hang for a little while with his teachers because this morning was “Donuts with Daddy Day.”  Clever alliteration, huh.  KRISPY KREME Donuts with Daddy Day, to be specific.  Except all the dumb little school kids ate every last one of the donuts before I had the chance to snag one!  (Just kidding about the kids being dumb, by the way.  I mean, they may be dumb, but I don’t know them well enough to know that for sure yet.  Okay, so just kidding about the fact that they may be dumb as well.  But not really).  ANYWAY, I love my son.  Like crazy.  Partly because he’s crazy.  He’s just all boy – climbs literally everything climbable (or not), loves to wrestle with me or our little white fluffy pansy dog, Otis…doesn’t make any difference to Smith as long as he gets to wrestle; he gets hurt ALL the time but he’s still really tough, shins always all bruised up, and he’s already been to the hospital twice for a busted lip and a busted chin.  The thing is, we run our household with pretty much only three rules for our kids:  1. First time obedience, 2. Have a “Right Response”, 3. Be kind.  And it’s a pretty beautiful thing to watch a kid as wild and as “all boy” as Smith is, respond to those things.  There aren’t many things “off limits” in our house – jumping on the couch like a trampoline is one of our favorite pastimes – but the things that are off limits (mostly to prevent the loss of limbs or falling from egregious heights) REALLY ARE off limits.  And we expect for those limits to be honored.  And what’s really crazy is to see that a 2½-year-old can get that…I mean REALLY get it.  Now don’t get me wrong, he’s still a 2½-year-old and there are, and always will be, LOTS of “teachable moments.”  Our hope is to spend more time in our house training our children than disciplining them. So, for all Smith’s craziness and wildness, he’s also very obedient and has a sweet, sweet heart.  I think the pull between those two poles inside of him will be the challenge of his life in a lot of ways.  And hopefully he’ll understand one day that they are not mutually exclusive…that, in fact, they feed and perpetuate each other in a beautiful way.  For now though, he still struggles to strike that balance and, as his teacher and I laughed about this morning, his hugs sometimes turn into tackles and his kisses sometimes look more like head butts.  As she said, I’ve never seen a trace of anything malicious in those moments, but sometimes his excitement just manages to get the best of him in fits of what she sweetly defined as “aggressive affection.”  I laughed and told her that she was being WAY to kind in her assessment.  But then I thought, what a beautiful phrase.  What a beautiful idea.  And I found myself wishing all of the sudden that I could find that aggressive affection again, even as a grown man – that I could let loose my grown-up “guardedness” and self-protection to maybe go a little more overboard from time to time, a little too far even, in letting my affections be known.

13 Responses

  • MontanaFry wrote on January 21, 2010

    What a beautiful post. I know that child. I raised him. We (HE) was on a first-name basis with the Emergency Room doctors and nurses! And tho we discovered ADD in the 3rd/4th grade and his school years were a struggle, he never lost his exuberance nor his sweet, sweet heart. He did go on to college, and is a successful police officer and father of almost 2, and step-father to two. I LOVE your Three Rules. Very VERY wise rules! I wish I'd (WE'D) been as wise! Enjoy every single second of his growing; they go by so incredibly fast! Blessings, amy

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  • Brenda wrote on January 22, 2010

    My daughter, now 8 y/o, is much like your son. As a pediatric ICU RN who has seen awful things, I forced myself to let her explore and learn (within reason, of course!) as she also loved climbing and rough-housing and all that comes with it (still does). We also purposed to not overreact to every fall & bump, etc., & she would get up and keep going while others would look at me like "Aren't you going to pick her up?"... But, she didn't/doesn't cry and fuss over "little" things; we know when she cries, it means something! Your post is so awesome! My husband is a musician. When he has insights like this, or hears/says a phrase that causes a "pause" in his heart/spirit, it often ends up in a song, maybe years later! Maybe we will hear "aggressive affection" in a Bebo Norman song someday... I love it. I pray that we are all aggressive in our affection for our Savior and His children, and that it shows in all we do. Thanks so much for sharing! God bless you and your family (and I pray you have no more ER visits!), Brenda

  • kristen wrote on January 23, 2010

    would love to hear more about your 3 household "rules" sometime... just had identical twin boys a few days before miller was born. thanks for writing.

  • CFBF wrote on January 24, 2010

    Those little snots ate all the Krispy Kremes??? How dare they!!!! We recently introduced ours to HOT KKD. What took us so long?!?! The boy has only been in the USA for 5 years in April!! Seriously - it is fun to read about your dad moments...we've all grown in the past 13 years. I love 'aggressive affection' taking life by the horns and living to the fullest. Isn't parenting a kick?

  • maris wrote on February 14, 2010

    Found your blog when looking for help for "aggressive affection", as this is what our 5 year old daughter is doing of late. We have a 6 year old son with ADHD, and the way your describe your son fits ours to a "t". :)

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    Thanks for writing the article. I really enjoyed reading it. :)

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