He runs to the opposite wall, takes a deep breath and runs toward me at a full tilt leaping into my lap. His heels dig into my thighs and his claws rake my neck (seriously can you ever cut them enough?) The other kids are sitting nicely in their parents laps during music class. Mine uses my back like a climbing wall, tumbling over my head in a fit of giggles. "Gentle," I try to say. He giggles some more and begins to tickle me. (Seriously, the CLAWS?!)
Then it begins again. The climbing, tackling, running full tilt love from my boy. He isn't acting out, he isn't seeking to hurt, is love is just expressed best in a whole body sort of way. The tackles are ways of showing his closeness.
With the other mother's he runs up to them and stops short, not crossing the imaginary boundaries of their "otherness." With me my lap is the safe zone in a game of tag and he wants to get there as fast as he can. I am the safe zone. My arms, his protection.
My scratches are battle scars, but also love marks - physical signs of his real love for me. They hurt yes, but won't the pain of him refusing to hug me as a teenager hurt more? For now I am the physical manifestation of love and he is mine. And sometimes it means bruises.
He doesn't know his own strength, and sometimes I underestimate it. But his love, his fierce, feisty, physical love? I don't doubt that for a second.
But still I call out, "gently, gently" and wince at the pressure points his heels find. I watch him and wonder at his energy, his power, and I know that his love is my inertia, just has I am his.
Love is a contact sport for my son, and I refuse to be just a spectator.