Michael Mendizza

Writer, Filmmaker

Melting Hugs


Bonding-Attunement, Parenting

Today Carly Elizabeth it officially eighteen months young. Yes, the brain grows more the first year than any other time. The density of possible connections are two to three times that of an adult. What does that mean? Muffins on the floor, toy train wrecks, hidden objects to trip over in the dark, toilet paper strolling down the hall, my wallet in the trash, car keys in the vacuum and a million other surprises.

In this period before Carly begins to utter words, sounds and gestures take the place of, “Gee, look at that!” I carry Queen Elizabeth a lot, her arm out stretched pointing to this, no, that over there. If I miss a que, she leans me in the proper direction. I have commented before that Carly is ever so sophisticated emotionally and physically. She expresses her preferences clearly and often with great force. I wish we were all so clear and direct.

Her world is one of safe touch, movement and sensation. Carly is still building sensory maps of everything. The word bonding comes to mind. She is bonding to the things she experiences. Her fine motor skills are amazing, plucking the graham cracker out of my hand like a pick-pocket, then offering me a nibble. Wait, I thought that was my graham cracker? There is a quiet intensity. She observes everything, building inner maps of how things are which implies how they should be.

It is off to the market on Wednesdays, Carly pushing the cart like a formula one. With appropriate intent she reaches, examines a can of olives and places several in her cart. Then, reckless as a drunken sailor, it is off to the bulk food bins. Six or eight raw pecans were hidden on the shelf. Of course she noticed. Carly looked up, found the bin holding the pecans, reached down and placed the lost ones back in their proper home. Satisfied, she raised each bin cover, examined their contents and closed each lid. Ah, chocolate chips. To my amazement she reached in to rearrange things as they ‘should be’ and closed the lid. I followed, snitching a chip and handed it to her. Just our secret and we have many, too many to keep track of.

Every now and then I am blessed by what I call a melting hug. Carly lays her head on my shoulder and melts. All the tension that is normally there releases. Like two tuning forks there is one mantra beating and we are it. It doesn’t last long, fifteen seconds is an eternity. This might be what we are all searching for most of our lives, a safe harbor, warm, welcoming, accepting, nothing to hide or to hide from. Thoughts end leaving an expansive peace that fills everything. It is the moments that we remember, moments like this, where love and sacred ebb and flow. Then, bang, off again at full speed.

We can’t be enchanted by our adultness and actually be with Carly at the same time. To actually ‘be’ together we dults need to stop the train wreck constantly chugging inside and melt into the moment. The closest metaphor might be having a big screen TV on in our head and heart and turning it off. Suddenly a completely different reality appears, bright, fresh and alive. Melting hugs is the big payoff. Then I know I am doing something right.

Michael Mendizza