Last night my son asked me to sit and watch Blue’s Clue’s with him before bed. I sat next to him on the couch, and he asked me to move closer, “so we can cuddle.”
I did. I put my arm around him and caressed his head, like I’ve done since he was a baby. It was a habit I’d had since he was big enough to sit up.
I don’t know why just then the question came to mind. I asked him, “does it bother you when I rub your head?”
My breath caught in my throat.
“Does it hurt you when I do that?”
“No. It just bothers me.”
“Thank you for telling me that. I don’t want to do something that bothers you, so I won’t do it anymore.”
“Okay. Will you hug me, though?”
My son has a very good vocabulary, and speaks in full sentences. But sometimes the idea to say something, and the ability to put together the right words, with the right tone, isn’t there.
I felt a pain inside. Because it doesn’t occur to him to find the words to say that it bothers him. And because he’s almost six years old, and I just now thought to ask. When he was younger, he had a lot of sensory issues. If only I’d thought to ask this question back then.
All this time, my boy with the quick temper never told me that my touching his head bothered him. I wonder how many things he holds inside, that nobody knows about.
And I hope that someday he comes to a place where he is finally able to express those feelings, rather than enduring years of something he finds unpleasant.
I’m so glad I finally asked.