I’m not sure where the line between sincerity and instinct lies for small children. It’s obvious that early in Miles’s life, he learned to cling to Jaclyn and I because he recognized on a base level that we were his caretakers. As he’s grown, his hugs have seemed to become more intentional, based on affection rather than a feeling of biological necessity or emotional coercion.
When I pick Miles up from daycare, he usually gives me a wide grin, darts over to me, and wraps his arms around my legs (sometimes this is also accompanied by him lifting a leg in an attempt to climb me). Today was no different, but when we got home, he kept hugging me and even started patting my shoulder with his hand.
Now, I know part of this was him simply trying to convince me not to leave for my trivia show, but it was impossible not to notice the real affection in his hug. It was calm and relaxed, not desperately plaintive. Emotional responses are manipulative by design, but tonight that didn’t feel like the primary reason for Miles clinging to me.
…sigh…what I’m saying is I really love this kid.