Sorry about this, but I’m going to have a rant.
I know this column is supposed to be light-hearted; five minutes mild amusement in the middle of a stressful day and all that. But I need to have a rant.
And the rant is about kissing. Specifically, men kissing their sons.
I went into town on Saturday. Popped in to Ben before I went. Quietly, obviously. Can’t disturb a man when he’s killing aliens.
“See you later,” I said. “Just going into town.” And I bent down and kissed the top of his head.
“Love you lots,” I said and went.
I came home and did some work online. And somehow I stumbled across an article on a site called Babble.
It’s something to do with Disney, so you’d assume a few people read it.
Its basic premise was simple: American men stop kissing their sons – as the article put it, ‘by the time the kid is barely old enough to pee in the potty.’
I can honestly say that I’ve simply never thought about kissing my sons.
I do it all the time. But the more I thought about the post, the stronger my feelings became.
And the next time Ben came downstairs to re-fuel (I didn’t have to wait long) I kissed him again.
Ah, you say. That’s all very nice – but it doesn’t count. It’s in the privacy of your own home.
Then again I gave him a lift to school the other day.
Drove into the school car park.
Put my arm round him, pulled him towards me, kissed him on the top of his head. “See you at teatime,” I said. “Have good day. Love you.”
Tom? He’s a bit more reticent than Ben but hell, he’s an engineer. He doesn’t really do emotion.
He does equations with that big, squiggly F at the front of them.
But if he walked into my office right now I’d simply stand up and hug him without thinking.
I might kiss him as well – and I’d do that without thinking.
Tough to kiss him on the top of his head though – damn it, he’s taller than me.
Let me tell you what else I’m prepared to do with my sons. Cry.
Three years ago Tom applied to Cambridge University.
This was the little boy I’d taken to nursery, the child I’d read stories with, the teenager who’d caused us to march up to school and explain that no, he wasn’t falling behind – he was so far in front he was bored to tears.
So when he got his offer letter I hugged him, I kissed him and I burst into tears. What else was I going to do?
What about my dad?
I know he loved me. Now I’m a dad I know he loved me to the ends of the earth.
Did he ever say ‘I love you?’ No, of course he didn’t. Because his generation didn’t do that.
At the end of my second year at university I went to Germany to see my girlfriend.
Dad took me to the railway station. It was the first time I’d been away on my own.
Suddenly we both realised we had to say goodbye. Significant goodbye. We’d never done it before.
Of course we didn’t hug. We shook hands. I’d like to think ‘shall I hug him’ ran through my dad’s mind. I know it didn’t.
But our generation of dads is lucky enough to be able to say ‘I love you’ to our sons, to hug them without thinking about it – and yes, to kiss them.
It’s a precious gift.
Don’t you dare waste it…