I can’t remember exactly when my eldest stopped loving me unconditionally. As a toddler, she would hug me no matter what. At some point she put two and two together, deciding that sweat is gross and that exercising makes one sweaty. When daddy comes home from a run, he can get as much attention as he wants by asking, “Who wants a sweaty hug?” At that point, she would run and hide, giggling and screaming.
Now with 3 kids, two of them run and hide with true fear. Only one family loves me unconditionally: Junior! What about my wife you ask? The one I’ve been faithfully married to for 14 years? The one who was an ER nurse contacting blood, guts, and any number of grotesque fluids? Apparently sweat is the worst of all! She does NOT love me unconditionally. In fact she’ll scream and run with the girls after a run of mine. But she inflicts bodily harm. She can dislocate fingers and quickly find the knife drawer.
So avoiding pain, I go on the hunt for the girls. When I find them – it’s parenthood at its finest – one of a few opportunities to get even. For all those sleepless nights and whining, here’s your payback. With a diabolical laugh, I give a quick hug. Or if the mood strikes, I give a hug and methodically wipe my arms and hair all over their arms and faces which are paralyzed with disbelief. At that point, it’s just me and my son. He sits in my lap and gives me a hug. He’s blissfully unaware of the transferring perspiration and stink. He is the only human in the world who truly loves me…that is until he catches on.