From the time Hana was a toddler to about 7 or 8 years old, she'd ask me to tickle her when I'd put her to bed at night She loved it. She found it incredibly soothing. And I found it beyond special to connect with her in this way.
Hana didn't breastfeed. She wouldn't. She would not have anything to do with it. We went to lactation specialists, tried several techniques... not happening.
As my first child, this was nothing less than heartbreaking. My 22 year old self feared that we would never bond.
I pumped for her for 3 months and then dried up.
So even though we didn't bond in that way, she showed me throughout her younger life that she had a desire to bond with me. Unfortunately, there were many nights she'd ask to be tickled, or 'tittled' when she was a wee toddler, and I would make up some excuse to not do it because I was ready to BE DONE for the day.
But on those nights that I would let go of my impatience and self-absorption, I would lightly drag my fingers over her legs and arms and back and feet. I'd run my fingers back and forth or in circles and swirlies. Sometimes she'd also request, "Mommy, will you squish my feet?" And I'd massage her teeny tiny toes and feet.
Hana and I went through a rough patch, to put it mildly, from about 5th grade to 8th. The details of that are for another post. But it got to a point that I couldn't live with her anymore, thus her coming out to California with Matt.
A few weeks after coming to California myself, she started asking me to tickle her again.
"Mom! Come tickle me, please!"
And now it's our thing, again.
Her feet and toes are still teeny tiny. She takes after the Italian side of Matt's family. She's on the smaller side, like her Great Grandpa Venturi was and Matt's younger brother, Sean.
I love tickling her while she tells me about her friends or about her day. Does she have any idea? Does she know the gift she's giving me as a 14 year old daughter? It's overwhelming. It's the best.
And... in true Ashley fashion, I can't just let the moment be. I usually feel the need to throw in an inappropriate comment or two to get a laugh. I don't know why I do that.
A couple of nights ago, during a lull in the conversation, I was tickling her calves when I said, "Hey... I'll show you my boobs if you show me yours."
Called me a 'pedo'.
It was exactly the reaction I wanted.