The Nearness of You

My 6 year-old daughter is the ultimate Klingon. Not the wrinkle-headed humanoid kind from Star Trek, but the Velcro-monkey-arms draped around your neck kind. She is on me, for many, many waking hours of the day, like the proverbial white on rice.

Upon waking, my sweet child stumbles bleary-eyed from her bed across the short hallway to my room and climbs (sometimes directly across her sleeping father) into mine. She pulls back the sheet and inserts herself as adhesively as possible into my arms. If I’m facing away, she tugs at me until I roll over and drag her into an embrace. Once settled, she reaches a small hand up to hunt under my curls until she fastens onto my earlobe (right ear, free of post earring, preferred) and begins a rhythmic caress.

Throughout the day, she generally manages to stay on her own two sturdy feet, leaving me a pleasant sphere of personal space, but there are always intermittent bursts of cling. When she approaches to explain, in her wonderfully detailed stream of chatter, about some idea or experience she’s had—all wide eyes and dramatic gestures—she often ends up in my lap or sprawled halfway across my legs as she perches on the arm of the chair or couch I’m occupying. Throughout the lively monologue, she usually performs a number of grasps and proddings, as if I am some curious specimen she can only comprehend through her sense of touch. She squeezes at the flesh on my upper arms, leans in to examine my eyebrows (once announcing, “I know what those dots on your forehead are. That’s where you used to have hairs when you were an ape.”), runs her fingers over freckles and bug bites.

Now that we spend our days at the pool, she is apart from me, her pink plastic goggles with their alien-eyed blue lenses firmly squeezed onto her head as she marches her perfect, muscled little legs away to leap into the water, or practice her newly learned diving skills. But, inevitably, she returns again and again to ask me to join her—please, please, please!!!—in the pool. When I relent, wading out to a place where she can aim herself at me to demonstrate her cannonball, she surfaces laughing and immediately paddles over and attaches herself like the suction cup of a giant squid. Then we bob and swirl, drifting from one spot to another as the crowds of splashing teenagers and barely moving seniors buffet us from all sides, sealed together as if we awaited rescue.

At dinner, she sidles her chair up next to mine, closer and closer, sometimes reaching for my napkin, taking sips from my water glass. If I leave the table, she’ll sometimes climb into my chair, giggling mischievously, and ask if she can sit in my lap when I return.

But the true pièce de résistance is soon to come … bedtime. Oh, the marathon of fleshly interaction that entails! I must sit on her bed, never her brother’s (full pout, sometimes incorporating hiding in the closet, ensues in response to such trespass). I must not do the reading aloud (dad’s job, leaving my hands and attention free to focus on her). I must, instead, proceed through a series of back scratching, belly rubbing, hair smoothing motions, sometimes from a sitting position but, better still, while curled within her child-size bedframe, her warm limbs twined around mine, her sweetly scented head tucked under my chin, her long lashes drooping as she relaxes, slowly, deeply, drifting into sleep.

At last I am free, to slide a tingling arm out from under her neck, damp with contact, and press my lips to her firm little brow, her skin so warm and smooth. It will be hours before she reaches for me again and, I hope, at least a few more precious years before she becomes too tall, too mature, too separate to need me that way anymore.

This is an original Jersey Moms Blog post. Deanna Q, a New Jersey mom, is a freelance writer and mom of two who is learning, moment by moment, how the days go slow but the years much too fast.

Deanna Q

About Deanna Q

Deanna Q was raised in Jersey (exit 151) but has never, believe it or not, owned a Bon Jovi album. (Springsteen is the only true Jersey rock god, in her humble opinion.) After graduating from UC Santa Cruz, she spent 20 years in the San Francisco Bay Area where life was good and the burritos even better. She has recently returned to the Garden State and now resides in Morris County where she and her Texas-born/Jersey-raised/California-found husband are raising two wild and wonderful kids and trying not implode from the ongoing culture shock. A freelance writer with a background in book publishing and the social expression industry (i.e., greeting cards), Deanna Q has a passion for international children’s film, chocolate, reading great fiction (and the occasional bit of fun trash), and 40-something movie stars named Johnny. She was utterly thrilled to have been chosen for the Star-Ledger’s Munchmobile on her first try and finds that writing about life in NJ continues to help ease the transition back from life on the left coast.

Comments

  1. MB says:

    My son is the same way. I figure he’s the best “boyfriend” I’ve ever had!

  2. Teicia says:

    Such a precious read Deanna!!!

  3. gena says:

    I loved this! especially the ear caress part – i am just now training my boys to love scratching Mama’s back
    beautiful post!

  4. My 11-year old son STILL loves to cuddle (although he won’t admit it to his friends). And I cherish every second of it.

  5. tpavis tpavis says:

    Beautiful post. I have a six year old who is like this. Big time snuggles. I love it. It’s better than chocolate!

    • Deanna Q Deanna Q says:

      Thanks, Theta! I have to agree — though it may be the ONLY thing that qualifies as better than chocolate in my life. Enjoy your sweet snuggler.

  6. Amy Griffiths Amy Griffiths says:

    That was pure loveliness. Thank you.

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