The Chocolate Lab Comes Home: Last evening my husband and I visited our daughter at her apartment, bringing both the stuffed dog and her real dog, Ms. Wags, aka Waggy, whom she hadn’t seen since August 1. I had the feeling that our daughter really missed us this past weekend. She called many times while we were in Maine, and at 9 A.M. and 3 P.M. Monday as well. However, when I asked her if she missed me, I didn’t get a resounding yes. In fact, I am not sure what her answer was but she was so sweet and yummy. It felt grand to see her though I had been with her only five days earlier. When we arrived around 6:30 P.M. she was busy making her lunch for the next day, a rather mushy PB&J with enough PB left over on the spoon to offer her real dog a special treat. Her apartment-mate was wrapped in a white blanket, claiming illness (“my brother has a cold and I think I got it”) and curled up on the red couch.
Gloves With Burgers: The staff person, a young lady who is petite, full of kind humor and gentle temperament, explained that the spoon was the utensil of choice because all the knives were in the dishwasher (sounds like they need a bit more flatware). The girls had come home after their DSO (Day Services Options) and then went to the town Park and Recreation for a trail walk, followed by dinner preparation, burgers. Oddly, no one was willing to handle the raw meat to make the patties. The staff lady used plastic gloves (she doesn’t eat beef) and our daughter flipped the burgers.
A Full-Body Hug: We spent about an hour there, looking at posters on the AllPoster website where she has a generous gift certificate from her cousins and still has yet to choose the poster(s) for her bedroom room or the living room. Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Salvador Dali and the Twilight Movie series were some of the names lobbied about as she scrolled through the options. The girls are so compatible they almost finish each other’s sentences. Never one for the full-body hug, our daughter was a bit more willing to let me embrace her both when we arrived and when we left. The dog, the real one, didn’t want to leave and lay down on the floor by the basement door, not moving. Seems that she too missed our gal and always likes a night out on the town, in the car, and with people. A total people dog.
Tactile Defensiveness: The hugging business is nothing new. Our daughter, who did like me holding her all the time when a baby, since probably late pre-school doesn’t like to be touched unless she is the initiator. She can give a great big hug to her brother’s friends, yet back away when approached by her parents and others, shifting her body to the side so we get half a hug. However, when she and I would share a bed, she would spoon around me. But always on her terms. She needs to be in charge of when she is touched and in many ways, especially as a female, that isn’t a bad thing at all. When she was in elementary school and riddled with anxiety and meltdowns, we did the brushing that is often recommended for children with sensory integration issues. She never loved that either. Yet, when you see her, all you want to do is hug her. She is that cuddly and friendly. Her boundaries are impressive and protective. And though I still think she missed me, I am fine either way. As long as she is happy and safe, missing me or hugging me or even thanking me (her dad reminded her to do that for the Chocolate lab) is incidental. After all, no one is more fun, interesting or worthy of loving than our gal. Just ask anyone.
©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011