Get a Room

I wrote some time back about how my oldest three children react completely inappropriately when they catch me and their dad snogging in the kitchen.

Sorry, I’ve been re-reading the sixth Harry Potter novel since the movie is coming out.  Snogging isn’t nearly as dirty as it sounds.

Anyway, rather than rolling their eyes and loudly pronouncing the grossness of seeing their parents kissing, or becoming embarrassed beyond words and fleeing to the nether regions of the house, my girls act like nothing is going on and even talk to us.

“Hey mom, I was just checking my email and . . . oh . . . umm . . . I got this email from Jane that was sooooo funny!  It had all these pictures of kittens and puppies and . . .” on and on it goes, despite the fact that we were just sucking face.

I have thought several times about the whole making out in the kitchen thing.  Why is it always in the kitchen?  There is much more comfortable furniture in the family room, after all.  I can only attribute the Kitchen Kissing Phenomenon (which I witnessed numerous times myself as a child) (though I reacted much more appropriately and fled) to the fact that we tend to spend much of our time together in the kitchen.  When he comes home from work I am generally in there figuring out what to fix for dinner while simultaneously trying not to eat a bag of chocolate chips, so he hangs out, tells me about his day, and helps out.

After dinner we go back into the kitchen (assuming we adjourned to the dining room to eat, which we sometimes do and sometimes don’t) to clean things up. 

Then there is the fact that the laptop resides in the kitchen, and we all know it is a well documented fact that I spend eight to ten hours a day on the computer (even on days when I am only home for two hours out of 24) (don’t ask), so really?  Chances are if the mood strikes for some spontaneous spit swapping, we are probably in the kitchen.

But why my girls don’t react appropriately, I will never know.  My best guess is that, being sheltered by the homeschool bubble as they are, they haven’t yet made the leap of logic which leads to the conclusion of, “Oh, my word!  What they are doing right now, in the kitchen, is somehow connected to what they did to bring me into being.  GROSS!!!!!!”

Sidenote:  The oldest two, at least, know all about how babies are made.  They just don’t seem to be connecting the dots.

But this post isn’t actually about kitchen kissing.  Nor is it about my girls.

This post takes place in our bedroom closet, which is actually off our bathroom.  Really, people, it needed cleaned out.  Badly.  So we were sorting and pitching, and hanging and folding, and one thing led to another and the next thing I knew?  One of us had the other pinned up against a dresser and (oh how I hope our parents are reading this) there may have been a bit of tonsil hockey going on.  Okay, okay, so there was definitely a bit of tonsil hockey going on.  But?  We’re married after all.  And?  It never got past anything rated PG anyway (and if it did I really wouldn’t write about that!), and then I heard footsteps behind me, just outside our closet door.

“Dog or kid?”  I whispered in my husband’s ear. 

He looked over my shoulder and whispered back, “Tank Boy.”

So I unwrapped my arms from around his neck and turned around to smile at my son, who I found staring at us while unsuccessfully fighting back huge tears that dropped from his eyes straight to my bathroom floor.

“What’s wrong, buddy?” I asked

“Do you . . .” he sobbed.  “Do you love Daddy more than me?”

I have no idea why Tank Boy came into our bedroom looking for us to begin with, and after seeing me and his dad kissing in the closet, neither did he.

It breaks my heart, the doubts he still harbors about how much I do or don’t love him.  For a long time now he has been asking me if I love him more than . . . fill in the blank.  He has asked me before if I love him or Daddy more, and I tell him I love them both as much.  It is not uncommon now for him to ask me if I love him more than I love alligators or snakes.  I think he likes to stick to the safe things, the things he knows won’t beat him in the love match.

But catching me kissing his dad in the closet brought up all his insecurities.  So I scooped him up in my arms and cradled him like a baby as I sat on the edge of the bathtub to explain that I love them both, but in different ways.  Really, how do you explain to a four-year-old why he only gets a quick peck from Mommy while Daddy gets, as Midge has called it in the past, a Dementor’s Kiss?  I just don’t know for sure.

He seemed okay with the explanation that I love them in different ways, but does he really get it?  I don’t think so.  I am so, so concerned about Tank Boy and his sense of being loved, and I have been for a long time.  Ever since he has been able to speak, it has been crystal clear to me that he associates love with stuff.  If I go shopping and don’t come home with something just for him, he is crestfallen and asks if I love him. 

A few days ago we went to a bookstore with McH’s (ex)step-father, who Tank Boy has met twice now (as have I and the rest of my children).  Step Father told the kids they each had a ten dollar limit and could pick out whatever they wanted, as long as it was $10 or less.  Upon hearing this, Tank Boy turned to him and very enthusiastically, very sincerely said, “I love you D~!”  I wanted to crumple into a ball on the floor.

I am not saying he should not have some kind of grandson/grandfather relationship with the step-father.  This is the man who, after all, raised my husband; was more of a father to my husband than his actual father was.  But?  The rest of us have only met him twice (long story).  I don’t mind if my son loves him, but I don’t want him to think he loves this man because he buys the kids stuff.

How do you help a child realize that stuff does not equal love?  I don’t know exactly.   But I want to know.  I really, really, want to know.

In the meantime, I now officially have four children who don’t react appropriately when they walk in on me and McH kissing. 

And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt says hello.

8 thoughts on “Get a Room

  1. Oh goodness. The stuff with the girls and how they act cracks me up. I love that it is just so normal to them to see you snogging that they don’t even react. I think that’s a good thing! I think the horror as they connect the dots will set in soon enough. But the Tank Boy part, that breaks my heart! I don’t know how in the world you answer that in a way that a 4-year old understands! And the stuff=love thing, yeah, that’s hard and concerning (and not just with the adoption factor, though certainly that adds another and extra challenging dimension). I had a friend who very much was making that mistake (always bringing home something new for the girl, like every day, working an extra job to get vacation perks for the family rather than just actually being with the family) and it drove. me. nuts. She seemed to be flat-out teaching her daughter that what was most important was the stuff she could provide for her. We’re no longer in touch, very much because of our difference in parenting styles and those types of approaches. Of course that’s just me rambling, not actually helping. Sorry!

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  2. I know that stuff doesn’t equal love, but I was thinking about the whole 5 love languages and all. I am a grown up and I still associate love/affection with little gifts and treats and stuff. The way I heap love on people is to bring them little things that I know they would love because I was thinking of them. Also, I feel extra loved when my hubbie brings me a little something or if a friend gives me something. Maybe I’m screwed up, but I totally associate the two. I LOVE giving things to people I love! And I love getting things too! (And most of the time, I’m not spending more than a buck or two or three 🙂 )

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  3. So I have no advice for you, but I did have to say that your girls reaction is really funny! At 3 (well, almost) Ava tries to get in between us because she’s jealous!
    I also thought of the love languages. Maybe he is just that kind of kid, but it is a sad message that someone you barely know must love you b/c they gave you 10 bucks. We have a board book called “You’re All My Favorites” where the little bear characters question how their parents could love them all. At this point Binh just likes the bears, but Ava really enjoys it. Don’t know if Tank Boy is too old or not. I also love “On the Day You Were Born” which tells kids how special they are just for being born..

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  4. Oh girl, I’ve been in that place. Still am, unfortunately. But I know when we had some power over the situation it did help to encourage grandparents and others involved to make a real effort to share their love openly and to NOT indulge with stuff because we have one child who reacts very similarly. One of my parents, in particular, was awesome about saying “we could go buy xzy but it would be so much more meaningful if we took a walk together. Stuff breaks or gets used up but memories are a measure of the real love we share and they last a lifetime.”. It made a big big difference, it really did. And then that connection ended and the child went back to the love is measured by $$ business and it’s been hard. I have always felt like if we had made that effort a little more on our end maybe it would have helped? I don’t know.

    Oh and I had to snort out loud about the being online 10 hours a day line. I have been the recipient of that line by someone who should have known better and I think all you can do is laugh at the ignorance.

    And I know I said it before but my kids do the same exact thing. They just talk as if it is as normal as breathing to be making out in front of them. Very very odd. Just think how much they must be internalizing such healthy displays of affection! It is definitely something I was not ever exposed to without embarrassment.

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  5. oh man, that kills. anytime they misunderstand or question the love, that is so tough.

    on the flipside – congrats on all the rad tonsil hockey!

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  6. I have no advice but lots of best wishes…and, here’s hoping that Quinn appropriately gags when he’s old enough to understand what you’re doing! You’ve still got one chance for a normal reaction!

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  7. That’s a toughie….so help here 😦

    On another note, perhaps Quinn will one day just belt out, get a room. You never know…

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  8. Sigh, my kids are the typical kind – you’d think we were standing there buck naked, the way they react. (and now just try to erase that image from your mind)
    Poor Tank Boy. I’m pretty sure there’s no advice I could give you that you haven’t already thought of yourself. But let me try anyway. 😉 Do you ask him if he loves you? Maybe if you turned the tables and he could think about how he shows you love it would help??

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