FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Family Christmas Visits

Written By: Scot Butwell - Dec• 24•12

DSCN1571This is what D looks when his grandma comes over for Christmas:

He continuously rides his tricycle in a circular loop through the kitchen and dining room, pedaling as fast as he can while whooping and hollering it up.

The Wife tries the extinction strategy. When this fails she tells D he’s being too loud. His behavior reminds me of a description of communication I read recently Japanese writer Shunryo Suzuki:

“Without any intentional, fancy way of adjusting yourself, to express yourself as you really are is the most important thing.”

This is what I think D is doing: expressing himself as he really is. The fact we rarely have guests over is another possible explanation for his behavior or, maybe, he is putting on a show for his grandma.

Honestly, I don’t know.

The next night his uncle and three cousins stop by to visit, and he is overwhelmed so many people. He covers his ears with his hands and buries his head into my side, peeking out at the Christmas show on tv.

When his cousins ask him questions, D’s muffled replies make everyone laugh. D has been repeating, “What would Bryce say if…” for months, but now that his eleven-year-old cousin is in the same room, he doesn’t say anything to him.

D lets out a squeaky fart and his cousins, his uncle and me laugh, and he loosens up as we play Pop the Pig, a game where you stuff hamburgers into the mouth of a pig.DSCN1568

D’s attention shifts to observing when the pig’s stomach will burst open, and he engages in small talk with his cousins before we open presents, and then it is time to say good-bye.

“Give your cousins a hug,” the Wife says.

“No hug,” he says.

“Okay, don’t give your cousins a hug.”

The wife tells his cousins that D has a habit of doing the opposite of what we tell him, so they instantly chime in unison, “No hug, no hug” to which D replies: “hug, hug.”

“Hug,” his cousins say.

“No hug.”


“No hug.”


Finally, D gives his youngest cousin Brenna a hug, but turns backwards right before the point of contact. “No, give a hug the right way,” the Wife says, and  he gives a correct hug to each one of his three cousins.

I’m sure most four-year-olds are not masters of human communication or comfortable doling out hugs, but I am happy D is following Shunryo Suzuki’s description of communication:

“Without any intentional, fancy way of adjusting yourself, to express yourself as you really are is the most important thing.” 

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