On Sunday, for instance, I took him to church for a friend's daughter's confirmation and stayed with Ethan and his little buddy in the "crying room"-- a separate room where parents can take their little ones so that they don't feel they're disrupting the service. Ethan was very antsy to get out of there, but when the other kids arrived he started to perk up and play more happily. He wandered over to his buddy A. a few times and wrapped him up in a hug with this sweet smile on his face the whole time, saying "Hug! Hug!" and looking up to make sure I saw what he was doing. It was so adorable! The first few times, that is; after that, I had to gently tell him that A. had had enough hugs, because there is a limit after all.
He found another friend at the Library on Monday: "Teddy," a tiny little blond girl around his age who sat at our table and played with puzzles and books right alongside Ethan. They spent the first fifteen minutes or so just playing near each other and glancing up every so often, but then they broke the ice and started openly acknowledging each other. From then on, it was like love at first sight. They darted around the children's library, checking out doors and sculptures and scattered books, then they wandered together over to the windows and gazed out at the buses passing by. They were having a wonderful time together, and Ethan couldn't stop grinning with delight. He even walked over to her and gave her one of his famous hugs, and patted her on the head when he was done. He turned towards the window again and her grandmother said, "Can you give hugs too, Teddy?" So Teddy, not to be outdone by a mere boy, leaned towards Ethan and laid her head ever so gently on his back for just a moment.
And those are the moments I want to remember, so that I can tell him about them when he has forgotten what it meant to be a child.
And in case you've forgotten, here is a link to The Official Hug Guide.