Monday, January 10, 2011

A Giant Hug Tug on my Heartstrings

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A couple of nights ago, my little G came downstairs a full hour after I put him to bed.  He sat on the couch for a couple of minutes, then came to my chair to climb into my lap. I felt his head and discovered he was a bit warm, he said he had a headache and didn't feel good.  Unfortunately, Motrin makes him hyped up, and Tylenol doesn't work at all for him.  I lightly massaged his little noggin, hoping to take away his headache and relax him into sleep.  Like a doggie, if I stopped G would grab my hand and direct it to his forehead.  If I moved my hand to his hair or neck, he'd re-direct it back to his aching forehead.  So adorable.  There he stayed for about an hour, and may have stayed longer, but I needed to go to the restroom.  Instead of bed, he wanted to sleep on the couch and wanted me to sleep on the other couch and stay close to him. 

What was unusual about this scenario is that G doesn't usually seek out cuddles, physical affection or sitting on our laps. Occasionally when I read a book to him he'll lean his arm on my leg. He lets me and the rest of our family hug him, but pulls away if it lasts too long or if we try to talk and hug simultaneously (too much sensory input is my best guess). When he gets hurt, if he feels it (the big IF), he will come to me for comfort, but only briefly.  His headache must have been really horrible for him to a) feel it  b) seek comfort  c) continue to want the closeness.   

He fell asleep while I watched a movie and re-awoke when I was making up the neighboring couch to sleep in.  I massaged his forehead again for a few minutes.  A memory came flooding back: I stopped showering affection on G a couple of years ago because he used to order me, "Go away now Mom," in a direct tone.  Ouch!   That hurt was difficult to bear.  Quick hot tears and a lumpy throat befell me each time.  I finally quit bestowing affection lasting longer than 5-10 seconds or so, and take care to talk quietly, no laughing.  Just a quick quiet hug before he twists out of it.  It just came with the autism package - nothing personal, I told myself.  I wonder what parent wouldn't take it personal.  I need those parent-child bonding moments too.

Later when I was nearly asleep G vomited and cried, I comforted him.  Well, that explained his seeking comfort and feeling needy.  He didn't get sick again and felt fine the next morning.

It's strange to realize that I'm missing out on a basic loving practice with G.  I take affection for granted with my older 2 children, a parent-child bonding which I still enjoy with my M, who loves to sit on my lap to cuddle.  My older son will surprise me with a random great big bear hug.  Naturally, he's growing away from affection like other tween boys.  I never really think about G's lack of cuddling any more, until he seeks it out for some odd reason - usually sickness or extreme tiredness.  I steal my kisses and hugs when I can as he zooms by. 

But lo and behold, little G came to me and curled up in my lap again...2 nights later.  I asked him if he felt sick, alarmed.  Nope!  After a moment he got up and I figured that was it, the typical 10 seconds, then back up and moving around.  Instead he lifted my throw blanket to climb under with me, sitting in my lap.  Granted - he talked a blue streak, completely driving my daughter crazy as we were trying to catch some family tv time before bed. 

But I was overjoyed!  

I'm not holding my breath that he'll suddenly become a snuggle bug, but I sure cherished every second while he did.