As a kid did you ever have an older relative that sort of creeped you out? Maybe they smelled funny, looked weird to you, liked to grab you, pinch your cheeks and leave wet spots where they kissed you? Your parents encouraged you to go ‘say hello’ and gave you warning stares as you scrunched up your face with disgust at the prospect. When you knew smelly Auntie Debbie or Uncle Jack with the scratchy face were on their way, what might have been a perfectly good holiday was going to be marred by having to interact with these two.
Now how about if, as it turns out, your favorite dessert is an apple crisp your dad only makes when one or the other of these two is coming by for a visit. It barely compensates for your displeasure, but it does add something to what might otherwise be a completely unpleasant experience. Add to this the fact that both auntie and uncle have stopped touching you, they don’t try to coax you over for a squeeze and your parents no longer require you to offer them anything more than a polite greeting. Months go by and even though your discomfort lingers a bit, as time goes one, you no longer feel dread hearing they are coming, seeing their car pull into the driveway or watch as they walk into the room.
Much to your surprise and delight you also learn that not only do they enjoy one of the same computer games you are rapidly moving up the ranks of, they are pretty good at it. When they visit they make sure to spend some time away from the living room chatter, and play the game with you, something you wish your parents would do with you more as well. It’s getting easier and easier for you to enjoy having them around and actually have begun to anticipate their visits with enthusiasm.
As you get older and you develop more social skills and confidence you find that potentially unpleasant interactions no longer have the same impact on you as they did when you were younger. There are still people you’d rather you didn’t have to hug and kiss, but you are able to grin and bear it. And you never know which might bring apple crisp and a good game of alien space invaders into your life.*
*Puppies might prefer cheese & a tennis ball