Wiping Off Kisses · 27 July 2007

When he was four, our youngest son, Thomas, said, “When I wipe off your kisses, I am putting them into my heart.” I was teasing him that he wiped off all kisses right after they were given. Especially, ones on his lips or cheeks given to him by his mom or me. Sometimes he would wipe them off by turning his head to one side and wiping his cheek with his shoulder and sometimes he would wipe them off with his hand. Either way, he always did it with a scrunched up nose. That was why I was teasing him. He had just scrunched up his nose and used his shoulder to wipe off one of my kisses. I did not expect such a heartwarming reply. So I had to think of a kiss from the perspective of a four-year old.

I had never really thought about the residual saliva of a kiss but it must be somewhat annoying to little boys and girls. They seem to be the ones who are always getting kissed by everybody. Grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, and especially moms and dads are always trying to slobber on the little ones. Up to about two or three years old, they have little defense against such an onslaught and we adults have mental pictures of these toddlers grimacing and then wiping away that icky stuff on their cheeks or lips. If they were health-conscious adults, they would be getting rid of germs or at least trying to do so but these helpless children are just trying to cope with a slobbery ordeal.

It is funny to think about kissing being an ordeal because many of those same children will think it funny and somewhat enjoyable when their dogs do the same thing – slobber on them. They might even giggle and roll around on the floor as their pooches literally shower them with doggy kisses. These kids rarely wipe off the dog kisses but immediately wipe off any kisses given to them by loved ones. Maybe they know, as all children do, that dogs have less germs than people do. Or maybe they only let their dogs kiss them right before Grandma and Grandpa or other nefarious kissers arrive. Maybe they are exacting a little saliva revenge.

Contrary to that toddler image, Thomas never really liked dog kisses. He does not even disdain kisses from his grandparents but rather gives his own kisses to them whenever he sees them. Still, I was taken aback when he said that he was putting my kisses into his heart when he wiped them off. If he had been older than four when he said it, I might have been suspicious that he was buttering me up because he wanted some ice cream or a new video game. But the innocence and unpretentiousness of a child that age is beyond suspicion. I did not know how to respond except to give him another big kiss. Which, of course, he promptly wiped off with his hand and for a bit of show put it into his pants pocket. I am sure that he was going to put it into his heart later.

As my children grow and change, I find myself reminiscing about the things they did when they were younger. I hear Peter’s giggle as a two-year old. I see Zachary’s smile as a six-year old. In my mind’s eye, I watch in wonder as Thomas puts my kisses into his heart as a four-year old. I realize that I am only entrusted with these blessed cherubs for too short a time and I try to cherish every moment. I hope against all hope that I will always have pictures of my children in my mind but I realize that I may not. So I write to keep my memories fresh. Hopefully, my words will spark the memories of those who read them and bring smiles to their faces too.

I know now that Thomas puts all my kisses into his heart even though it looks like he is just wiping them off with his sleeve or his hand. I suppose that he is saving them up to give to his own four-year old some day who will then wipe them off into his own heart.

© 2007 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Published 24 July 2007 in The Monroe Monitor & Valley News



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