Hadley loves to give kisses. And, as you can see, when she decides that she wants to give a kiss, she is determined to get it done, even as her sister scoots away from her. Just a bit about my oldest's personality--she is cautious, discerning and intentional. When I consider this in the context of her giving kisses, it means just that much more. Hadley has decided that giving kisses is the way that she is going to love and show affection, and she does it--very intentionally. I love this about my daughter; it is precious, especially when I'm on the receiving end of one of those slobbery expressions of affection.
In a conversation with a friend a few weeks ago, we were discussing the importance of receiving love from our children in the way they want to give it. I love that! And it makes complete sense. Adults are free to express love in the manner of their choosing, and so should our children!
If we all try hard enough, we can think of that friend who knows just the right words to say to encourage us. Or the sister who comes up with the most thoughtful gifts to give that are completely "you". Or the husband who cleans up the kitchen before you can even think about getting to it. Or the friend who warmly touches your arm as she's speaking to you, putting you totally at ease. You get the idea--people love differently. And it is such a privilege to be on the receiving end of those acts of love, isn't it?
I want to encourage, and foster that freedom in both of my children, whether they love by giving kisses, giving away pictures they've drawn, or simply by saying so. Taking this a step further, I will never force my children to give affection to me or anyone else, nor will I tolerate other people manipulating them to do the same. Love and affection should be expressed on their terms, not ours. As much as I love Hadley's kisses, I don't force her to give me kisses, nor will I ever tell her to give someone else a kiss. If she wants to give her aunt, grandparent, or even her papa a kiss, she will, and if not, that is completely okay, maybe next time she will. How meaningful would a "Hadley kiss" be, anyway, if is not given of her own volition?