I hate to say this, but I like it when my teenaged boy gets a cold. Why, you might ask? For purely selfish reasons, it means both of us don’t have to get up at 6 a.m. for school if he feels lousy enough to take the day off, for one thing. But it’s more than that.

The dear boy is now five foot eight; in the summer, I had an inch on him, and I am five-four at the very tallest. Not only does  he no longer fit under my chin when I hug him, but I fit under his, and he won’t let me hug him anyway. In fact, he says: “EWWW!” or “Get away from me!” when I approach for a hug or kiss, and the only time I can sneak in any affection is if I do a stealth attack from behind while he’s sitting at his computer and he doesn’t see me coming. He submits with a weary sigh because it would be too much trouble to get up from the chair and fight me off.

But when he’s sick? It all changes!

Last night he came sniffling into my room at 2:30 a.m., all feverish and stuffed up, and asked if he could sleep with me. And then he got in and snuggled up to me as I put a cold cloth on his head. Today, he’s frequently allowed me to hug and kiss him and stroke his head. He even cuddled up to me briefly while we looked up information on the Korean War on my laptop for his homework. And just now, he happily let me tuck him in and give him many kisses on his hot forehead. In his weakened state, feeling lousy and in need of motherly love, I am now allowed to touch him again in between feeding him hot chicken soup, putting socks on his feet and bringing him cool washcloths and Tylenol.

My daughter never went through this stage — she was always happy to be loved and snuggled and cuddled, even in the  midst of her tumultuous teenaged years. That’s why I found it particularly heartbreaking when my son, formerly snuggly, suddenly put a stop to it.

I hope he gets another cold soon.

p.s. Yes, that is him as a baby above. Oh my God!!