"Me mama, dadda, kissa me." Kid E commands rushing towards my husband and I who have snuck in a rare kiss by the kitchen sink.
I pick E up and she kisses my cheek, my husband's cheek and then we kiss hers. Kid J is eyeing us from the hallway, deciding whether she wants to bother being included or if she'd rather take the moment of being unobserved by her sister to charge off with the recycling garbage truck that has been the earlier tug-o-war object du jour. She puts the truck aside and lopes towards us with her hands up.
"Squish hug," I say as we fold and crush together, a balanced four. Kid J tries to kiss my ears. I tilt my head out of the way while she laughs.
Our kids get jealous when my husband and I kiss. At 2.5 kid E sees a kiss or a hug and she wants to join in. Kid J - at five and since about the age of three, knows there are different kisses. She once tried to plant a squishy kiss on my lips holding my face and moving from side to side and she was hurt and confused when I peeled her from me. She burst into tears and said, "how come you and daddy kiss that way and you don't kiss us?"
"Oh honey..."I began attempting to explain the different kinds of kisses for different people and the appropriateness of each kind. "But," she protested, "that doesn't make sense - other moms kiss kids on the lips - you don't but you kiss daddy on the lips."
I know other parents kiss kids on the lips and my own mother has been known to hold cheeks and plant kisses - but I don't kiss my kids on the lips and I don't want to. I have an easy rationale - I get cold sores and since I never know when one is coming or going, my rule is that I don't kiss their lips. I might be a prude, but I just don't want to kiss my kids on the lips and I don't want other adults to kiss their lips either. Don't get me wrong, I'll walk around the house naked, bathroom doors are rarely closed and both my kids think my body is still owned by them - memories of nursing still not far from their minds - but I just see no reason to plant a kiss on kids' lips.
Kid J has accepted this, but I notice that lately she has been trying to test the acceptability of kissing my ears. Sometimes I kiss my husband on the ears. He has beautiful dainty ears. I can kiss them even if I have a cold sore. I can sneak in a kiss, nuzzle my head into his neck for a minute, tell him I love him and sometimes the kids won't need to join in and I can still get the dishes in the dishwasher before the evening bedtime routine is rolled out and unraveled.
Kid J has noticed the ear kisses. I can't use cold sores as an excuse. Why can't she kiss me on my ears? The truth is that she can, but I'd rather she didn't. She knows this. "Why are you kissing my ears lately?" I ask convinced she is trying to push my buttons. "Because I like your ears best," she declares. "They are soft and funny." she says while leaning back on my arm, closing her eyes and reaching up to pinch my ear lobe. I think I will let it go and she will get over it. It is nice she likes my ears, but I think I will also buy her a big eared plush bunny rabbit for Easter.