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Do you kiss your kids on the lips?

Erin Zammett Ruddy

My blogger/writer/all-around-cool-gal friend Joanna Goddard wrote about this topic on her blog yesterday—she is an unapologetic mouth kisser when it comes to her adorable baby, Toby. I watched the comments and opinions roll in (um, 381 at last count) and, well, I wanted to add my two cents. And, more importantly, hear yours! Because I think the lip/cheek debate is a fascinating one and it’s been on my mind a lot lately.

The background: Unlike Joanna, I didn’t grow up kissing my parents on the lips at all (if you remember, I also didn’t grow up saying I love you to them, despite the fact that we all loved—and love—each other immensely). It just wasn’t how we rolled—kisses were on the cheek and it honestly made me a little uncomfortable when I’d see grown kids plant one on their parents' mouths. Maybe that’s the super prude in me talking but that’s how I felt. And, if I’m really being honest, how I still feel. I just can’t imagine kissing anyone on the lips other than Nick (or Tim Riggins). Joanna's grandfather once told her: "A man should kiss his father on the forehead, kiss his friends and family on the cheek, and kiss his wife on the lips." And I kind of agree. Though lately that opinion may be changing…

It rarely even occurred to me to kiss Alex on the lips when he was a baby (despite the fact that I would fully make out with his cheeks/chin/eyes/nose/head any chance I got). This could have been the first-time mom germaphobe in me or the fact that we had MRSA swirling through our house (or, more likely, that it wasn’t how I was raised and so I resisted any urge). Nora seems to be a different story. She loves to pucker up and kiss anyone and anything she can find (she kisses strangers, her dolls, her books, the baby on the Yobaby yogurt container, her sippy cups, even Nick’s iPad if we play her the Elmo and Ducks clip, her current obsession). And here’s the thing: If you try to give her a cheek, she’ll grab your face with two hands and force you to give her your lips. Which, of course, is adorable. And, I have to say, I love it. After I read her books at night, she says, “nigh, nigh,” pulls her paci out, says “kiss,” then kisses me smack on the lips and dives headfirst into her crib. And I’m in heaven. There is really nothing sweeter.

Will I still be doing this when she’s 10? 5, even? Doubtful. Has it changed the way I kiss Al (making out with his cheeks/chin/eyes/nose/head any chance I get)? No. I think it’s a cute little baby thing but I don’t see myself being a lip kisser for long. Though I did once eat a piece of food that fell out of Alex’s mouth so I guess you never really know what you’re capable of as a mom, do you?

So, do you kiss your kids on the lips? Both girls and boys? How old? Did you/do you kiss your parents on the lips? Let’s discuss. Sans judgment, por favor.

P.S., Unlike my house growing up, there is no shortage of I love yous in the Ruddy home (i.e., I’m willing to buck tradition and do my own thing). Last night I told Alex I loved him while he was eating dinner (the kid took down about 10 pieces of broccoli, I couldn’t help myself) and he said, verbatim: “Mom, you say that too much. I know you love me and I love you. Now you’re just embarrassing me.” The worst part? He said "embarrassing" with a midwestern accent! (Nick is from Michigan).

P.P.S, I do not even think he knows what embarrassing means—he’s only three and a half—but he’s heard his cousin say it and just happened to use it in the correct context. It was pretty hilarious nonetheless.