Seriously, stop touching me…

Seriously, stop touching me... by Keri Kettle

I spent eleven hours sitting on a plane between my two kids.  Eleven is supposed to be a magical number.  This was not a magical experience.  Or maybe it was.

My kids are teenagers, they give hugs, but not unless I initiate, and they are the first to push away.  They are nearly adults, but not quite, so being a squishy little ball of love to their mom just sounds gross and immature.

But if you are trapped on an airplane than leaning all over your mom, trying to read what she is writing on her phone, watching what she is watching (and commenting, incessantly) and competing with your sibling for her constant attention for ELEVEN HOURS –  now THAT sounds fun.

When they were little, just the car ride home from school was a nightmare of “she touched me!” and “he is looking at me again!”.  This is why I sat in between them, I’m no dummy.  What I forgot was how exhausting it is to be the center of their attention and the sole source of their endless need for validation.  We may complain about teens spending too much time on their phones, but those little addiction devices are a great source for the kind of validation that humans, particularly adolescent humans, love to get.  Without the distraction of each other, without the adrenaline hit from Instagram likes and Snapchats, they only had me to poke and analyze and press their squirmy, little selves against me.

It was such an honor that they wanted my attention, that they wanted my touch, even if it came in that awkward adolescent form of leaning and bumping around and asking questions like, “would you rather have orc ears or hobbit feet?”.

Sometimes I forget how much even big kids needs to be touched and validated and reassured that they are loved and valued.  They certainly know how to test your love as they keep pressing further and further at your edges, “will you still love me like this? how about this?  what if I insult your friends, your life, your God?  will you still love me now?”.

The gift of eleven hours (s)trapped in the middle seat of an airplane between my teenagers was the reminder that even if parenting often feels like you are only a source of food, rides and clean underwear, that the truth is what the teens seek above all else are the things they never ask for.  What they crave is your touch, your affirmation and your repeated assurance that, yes, I will love you –  even when you are needy, even when you are criticizing me, even when you can’t wait to get away and start your life as an adult.

But, seriously, stop touching me.

Please share your thoughts.