Parenting Perspective: 27 kisses

February 4, 2011 7:24:22 AM PST
Every day, when I go to work, my five year old son, Luke, has to give me 27 kisses.

Not 26 and certainly not 28, but 27 in a row. Sometimes he mixes it up, giving me 27 in the house and then running out to the car to plant another 27 on my cheek as I sit behind the steering wheel (I use that opportunity to try to teach math: 27x2=54.)

Then I wait for Luke to run back to our front porch and I honk three times as I drive away. It's a ritual we repeat every day I go to work. In the rain, in the snow, in the bitter cold, Luke has to run out to give me 27 kisses before I drive away. Emma kisses me once, sometimes hugs me, but doesn't make a big deal of it. On days when Luke has an early afternoon swim lesson, he rushes home to catch me before I leave to give me my 27 kisses.

It warms my heart that Luke, on the cusp of becoming a "big boy", still wants to smother his mommy with smooches. And, at the same, this ritual is comforting to my son.

Child development experts say rituals provide children with comfort and security. By knowing what to expect, they can help youngsters deal with the anxiety of being separated from a parent.

In "How to Manage Preschool Separation Anxiety: Tips for Coping with Separation Issues in Preschool," Shannon Ayers, assistant research professor at the National Institute for Early Education Research, says that the ritual should be something relatively quick like a special hug/kiss combination, secret handshake, or unique or silly exchange of words (i.e. see you later alligator, in a while crocodile).

Luke goes to kindergarten next year and will be in school when I leave for work each day. That's when we'll have to adjust our little ritual (I'll likely be getting up early to give him kisses as he heads off to school.) But, for now, I have to admit, I think I may look forward to those 27 kisses even more than Luke.

Happy parenting! Cecily

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