It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Maybe I am too squeamish for this job

Parents kissing their children on the mouth.

I have to admit, this skeeves me out. Lip-to-lip kissing, to my mind, is something shared between lovers. Period.

Now, I didn’t get this prejudice from my family of origin. I have very clear childhood memories of good-night kisses, me in my nightie, teeth brushed and ready for bed, doing the circle of adults in the living room. A kiss for Granny and Grandad, then mum would take me to bed, and another kiss for her before the lights went out. And all the kisses were the same: you puckered your lips, pushing them as far out from your face as possible. The other person did likewise and you sort of bounced them off each other, Pwuff! Nice and dry and soft. That is a kiss between adult and child.

And when we got older, adult-child lip-to-lip kisses ceased. I don’t really remember when, but they certainly weren’t happening when I was a teen. But when I was a little girl, it was just normal, and I liked the nightly good-night kiss tradition. It’s a happy childhood memory for me, so I’m not sure where my antipathy to adult-child kissing comes from.

Once, an uncle came to visit. I was about nine. He kissed me, and — his lips were kind of open! and they were wet!! I was completely grossed out. Too tactful, even at age nine, to scrub my lips in his presence, I scrubbed vigorously when I was out of the room. My mother was sympathetic to me and disapproving of her brother. “That’s not how you kiss a child,” she tutted. I never had to kiss him again.

(For the record: my uncle had no nasty tendencies re: his nieces. Nothing like that at all. He was just a sloppy kisser.)

But as for me? I’ve never kissed my children (or anyone else’s) on the lips. I recoil at the thought. When I see other parents kiss their children on the lips, I look away. Lip-to-lip kissing in intimate, too intimate for an audience. And between adult and child? It just doesn’t feel right. Yurgh.

Timmy is very affectionate with his mother, and she with him. These two adore each other. She takes such pleasure in him, it’s a delight to watch. When she comes in at the end of the day, their faces could light a room.

She has always kissed him — on the lips — when she greets him. One kiss, during which I tend to another child, or look at the back of his head, or scratch my foot, or something. Lately, Timmy has taken to kissing her back. Which she greets with adoring laughter. Or he initiates the kiss. The affection is wondrous to behold. Every parent loves their child; every child loves their parents, but these two take a degree of delight in their exchanges you don’t always see.

But they kiss on the lips.

And Timmy, when he kisses, he doesn’t pucker. At all. No, he opens his mouth, he flares his lips. His kiss encompasses both her upper and lower lips. Sometimes his upper lip grazes her nose before setting in to devour her mouth.

It is gross. And it goes on and on. Not just one kiss, but kiss after kiss after kiss. Open-mouthed kissing. Mother-son necking in my front hall.

I am skeeved out on a nightly basis. I try not to be, but I am. Urgh.

November 29, 2007 Posted by | eeewww, quirks and quirkiness | 20 Comments