My 18-year old daughter is a bit of a cold fish. She’s the anti-hugger. She doesn’t like to be touched, kissed, or even have her hand held. Even when she’s with her friends, she leans in with those half hearted, back patting ‘bro-hugs’ that boys, rappers, and gangsters dole out to each other.
I’ll admit that I still keep trying to hug and kiss her. I’m holding out hope that one day when I ask for some affection, she’ll say yes. You heard me, I have to ask. I have to ask my child, who came out of my vagina, if I can kiss her. This is according to her therapist, who says that due to her anxiety she needs to control her personal space. I’m not sure I believe that crap. Some people are affectionate, and some aren’t. She’s not. But, I am. So, I beg. And, the answer is always no. Each and every time she rebuffs me, my feelings are hurt, obviously against all logic, because the rejection is never any great shock.
Once in a while, she comes over to me and hugs me out of the blue. These hugs usually convey any one of four possible messages:
-I want something
-I know you’re doing something else, so when you don’t have time to hug me I’m going to walk off in a huff
The nature of her voluntary embrace is generally somewhere in between the aforementioned bro-hug and one you’d give your grandmother. It generally leans way more towards the former than the latter. I’m admitting, though, beggars can’t be choosers, and I take what I can get.
I worry that this girl doesn’t have an affectionate or maternal bone in her body. I haven’t really witnessed her with many suitors to see if she warms up a bit when the teenage love meter is on the rise. She’s only had one boyfriend, and since everything I do embarrasses her, she never brought him home, apparently for fear of what I’d say or do. Can you imagine? The nerve!
Of course, there are upsides to her nature. Being not free with her affections, I’m pretty sure she’s not free with her affections (If you know what I mean.) Also, I know that that she doesn’t give her heart lightly, and isn’t running around in love with every Billy Bob that crosses her path. (Although it means that when she falls, it will be hard.)
Once in a while I see a glimmer of tenderness when she looks at one of our dogs. A few weeks ago, some boys who know my youngest came into her work and were making fun him. She defended her brother, and told me later that she wanted to beat them up for dissing her baby bro. That’s an encouraging sign of a warm heart hiding in there.
Then, today, I saw a beaming ray of sunlight melting her icy shell.
One of our fish had babies. A lot of them. I was ready to let nature take its course, survival of the fittest triumph, and basically wait and see if it really was a fish-eat-fish world. But, not my girl. She sat there for hours patiently catching those teeny tiny babies one-by-one, and lovingly placing them in the little breeding box. She spent all day saving 18 tiny fish. It was completely out of character.
Whoever said people don’t change has never watched a distant, self-absorbed teenager mother a school of newborn Molly fish.
Next time she turns her back to me when I try and snuggle with her in her bed I’ll try to remember this day . Maybe I should get a fish costume to wear. Now, that’s a thought.