It's pretty amazing to me how doggedly children insist on spreading their innocent love around. We went to my son's house to be with the pre-teen and teen children of their blended family of our son's family and the family of their best friends while the adults went to a Saints game. As Richard sat at the computer working on a presentation on his work with the Higgins boats for our ten-year-old granddaughter's gifted class, our granddaughter came over and started finger-combing the back of his rather sparse hair.
When Richard commented that fixing his appearance was impossible, she shifted to tweaking his rather prominent earlobes. As Richard is a very staid New Englander, not given to any outward signs of emotion unless you watch his twinkly Irish eyes, he was greatly confused by this behavior. I had to explain to him that this is typical female behavior toward the people we love. We groom them. Several times that day she spontaneously threw her arms around his waist and gave him her skinny little body's equivalent of a big bear hug and then insisted that he build blocks around her friend and herself as he had when she was very small.
As we drove home, I explained to him that he is a part of her safe male group and that she is looking for ways to connect to him. Why else would she have told her teacher about her "Poppie" being involved in the Higgins boat builders and have him invited to come talk to her class? This is also why her big brother helped in formatting the slide show for the presentation and why all the children listened and gave feedback on the practice run.
A friend once told me that her preacher said to his congregation on Father's Day, "Dads, go home and hold your daughters. If you don't, they'll find a man who will." It does seem that we never outgrow the need to connect physically with those we love. I feel so fortunate to be married to a man that is so grounded in his values and boundaries, and is yet so willing to serve the needs of those he loves.