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Pinch me not!

Dear Suzi and Paolo,

Good morning!

Thank you for your wonderful pieces of advice on Moms & Kids. My family gets a lot of helpful insights on dealing with the situations/problems that you have discussed in your column.

May I request for your opinion on cheek pinching? I am blessed with two healthy boys and my problem is that adults tend to pinch their cheeks, which is really irritating. My younger son says it hurts when people do that. And I have advised him to be alert so that he can turn away fast before being pinched. One mother even had the gall to complain that my son didn't want to be pinched. "Ayaw pakurot o!" she said. It certainly made my blood boil as she has a son with cheeks that she can pinch to her heart's desire!

Hope you can give me some insights. Thank you!

Carol Chan

Quezon City

Suzi says

Hi Carol. What a cute boy! I certainly can't blame the other mothers for wanting to pinch those cheeks.

Slightly related but not exactly, I remember each time I was pregnant, I found my belly being rubbed by friends and even strangers! It was so crazy! I remember telling Paolo that at the end of the day, my shirt is actually slightly dirty around the belly area. But it doesn't hurt me so I don't mind. Well, I slightly minded the strangers but got used to it eventually.

But this is different because your son has already told you that he feels pain when pinched. Poor child! I'm glad he was able to tell you about it so you can help him manage it. It might be irritating for you (especially when others comment on your child not wanting to be pinched) but do try to keep your cool. Maybe you can say something like "masakit naman kasi" or "may bayad pag kinurot" if you want to maybe make light of the situation. I like that you advised your son to act quick and try to avoid getting pinched.

At some point, I think family or friends will remember your son not wanting to be pinched and will avoid doing so in the future. And still if they insist, you can jump to his rescue, just like she would, I'm sure, when her son needs to be rescued! That's motherly instincts right there. Good luck Carol! And have a great holiday season ahead!

Paolo says

Hi Carol. This is your fault for having kids that are too cute! Haha.

Seriously though, sounds like it's a problem that needs some attention. The good thing is that we've established an important fact. All this cheek pinching is quite unpleasant for your child. That being said, it should be something that should be addressed immediately.

I'm afraid that you're going to have to be a bit pushy and would need to stand your ground. Don't leave it to your son to be the one to avoid the attention but rather help him by explaining that he really doesn't like it when people pinch his cheeks.

You're gonna have to live with people's reactions though. They may think that you're not being particularly friendly. And you might find yourself becoming quite unpopular because of this decision.

Just tell as it is. There's no way around it. I think if you're able to communicate this in a good way, people will eventually understand. I think the well-being of our children comes first for us parents at any rate. And good friends will certainly understand if we decide to do something that will be good for our kids.

Apart from this advice, I can't think of a way for you to avoid the situation. Just be diplomatic. Practice and think of statements that you can use.

The one positive thing to see in this situation is that you are raising two obviously very cute and healthy children for people to react this way! Give yourself a pat on the back for that. Good job, Mommy!


Illustration by Eugene Cubillo

Carol Chan's pinch-worthy son
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Title Annotation:Moms & Kids
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Dec 14, 2013
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