Hugs are enjoyed #045;#045; sometimes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 11, 2002

Before they came to town on Independence Day, I hadn't seen my grandchildren since Easter.

Now, I may wait for next Easter to see them again.

I'm kidding, of course. It's just the oldest granddaughter wants to dye her hair blue, my oldest grandson wants a paint gun when he babysits for his younger siblings, and his sister wonders what she would look like if she were bald.

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In other words, three very normal kids ages 12, 10 and 8.

My grandchildren can come home anytime. But, let's be honest, only for a visit.

When grandchildren live with you, there's no opportunity to spoil them. Everything you do for them is a necessity of life and parents everywhere are doing those things for their children.

Grandparents are at their best when they come and go from their children's lives. Like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, their good deeds are seen, but not too often to take for granted. Parents are taken for granted, not grandchildren.

Absence did make this grandfather's heart grow fonder for the grandchildren, who have lived with me. All five of them.

There were the obvious changes.

Everyone had grown taller. I could tell, when we started the ritual of hugs. I didn't have to bend over.

My oldest granddaughter, DeeDee, is still positively freaked out about being hugged in public. I can read her mind: "Omigod. He's looking at me. He's stretching out his arms. He's coming toward me. He is going to hug me with all of these people watching.

I wish I were dead."

My oldest grandson, Quinton, is equally embarrassed about being hugged in public.

A couple of times I've taken a couple of punches to the ribs when I held on too long.

The next grandchild, Katherine shares her older sisters' aversion to being hugged in public.

She crosses her arms over her chest, drops her head to the ground, pouts and walks forward at a pace slower than a snail's.

By the time she arrives within range of my arms, the thrill is gone for both of us and the hug lacks all emotion.

She's so shy.

There are two more as the roll call of grandchildren continues.

They are toddlers and hugging them is a real joy if you can get past the fumes emanating from their diapers.

Because I've changed a few in my time as a Mister Mom and then a Grandpa Mom, I know they're full of toxic waste they would refuse to bury in the caves in Yucca Flats, Nevada.

With a full diaper, it could be dangerous if you squeeze too hard or in the wrong place.

After the hugs are over, the grandchildren usually have to be treated for whisker-run-itis if I haven't shaved recently.

The oldest granddaughter wants to join the federal witness protection program if anybody says she was hugged by her grandfather.

Her brother wishes he had a grandmother handy who didn't have whiskers.

His little sister is still angry her grandfather would even dare try to hug her and wonders if a swift kick in the shin wouldn't cure him of any future hugging.

The babies simply don't have a clue.

Being hugged by adults is a time-honored ritual. If it feels good to grandparents, it feels good to grandchildren.

Me? I always feel good when I hug a little grandchild and they don't stick to me.

Lee Bonorden can be reached at 434-2232 or by e-mail at