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The case of the hug-happy kid

Submitted by on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 No Comment

As far as discipline problems go, it’s a not-bad one to have. It’s preferable to biting, hitting, kicking, pinching, etc.

It’s still annoying, though, and it’s getting Boots in trouble somewhere virtually every day: At school, at karate and at baseball practice.

Boots, it seems, has gone completely hug happy. It’s annoying the life out of his friends.

It’s bugging some more than others. That’s the report I got a few weeks back after Boots repeatedly embraced a classmate after school at baseball practice. I didn’t see the hugs – I was about 50 yards away watching Big Guy’s practice for a few minutes – but I got the report later from the other kid’s mom. The kid had told her later that Boots had made the child “uncomfortable.”

That language made me uncomfortable, as visions of the suspended Denver kindergarteners danced in my head. I’ll talk to him, I said.

And ever since I talked him, the problem’s gotten worse.

The next night, he practically tackled a teammate at baseball. The kid’s struggles to escape looked like a bug trying to flee a spider’s web. The following evening, he repeatedly embraced a classmate at karate. “Get. Off. Me,” the kid finally growled. I don’t blame him. I’ve wanted to say that, too, sometimes.

I’ve tried to couch the warnings carefully, lest I give him the impression that hugging is wrong. Visions of a future girlfriend dumping him because he won’t show affection danced in my head.

Apparently, though, he’s doing some couching of his own on “keep your hands to yourself.” I can practically see the wheels spinning in his head. “Hands? Yes, she said ‘hands.’ So that means I can still lock my arms around someone in a vice-like grip.”

I’ve changed the reminder, now issued before school every day as well as at all sporting events, to “if someone doesn’t want to be touched, don’t touch them.” I fear there’s still wiggle room there, because it gives him one free shot.

I know I’m not the only person to deal with this. It’s been discussed on parenting boards, and just this morning I heard another mom warn her similarly hug-happy son. “If you keep doing that, one of these days someone is going to popĀ  you,” she said.

Maybe he and Boots need to get together.

Sometimes, in fact, they do. Pictures from the last birthday party Boots went to show the two all hugged up together in several shots. At least they weren’t bugging someone else.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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