Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Post Back Rubs and Toe Popping

Some things my family did right.  Or, at least, they did things that weren't particularly wrong that I'm able to look back to in fondness.

I particularly liked the back rubs.  I think they started out as back scratches and morphed into rubs when Dad decided that scratching was inferior to rubbing because while scratching feels good over an itch, it can sometimes provoke the itch into spreading or remaining.  Rubbing, while feeling less like it's fixing the itch, will slowly soothe it.  So although it takes longer, and you have to be more patient, rubbing will fix the problem more thoroughly, and is therefore the superior method.

Dad made a series of such decisions, expecting them to be the Answer For All Time.  But that isn't what this post is about, I'll let that short note be a reminder to post about that later.  Assuming I read back through the posts, it should work.

I never told Dad, and at the time he was pontificating about rubbing vs. scratching, I might not even have been aware, but when I asked to have my back scratched, it wasn't because I had a particular itch, really.  

Oh, I might have felt a prickling when I saw an adult relative sitting on a couch with space available beside them.  But that would have been a prompt from my subconscious.  What I wanted was the contact.  And rubbing worked as well as scratching did.

In my family, in our family, any kid who sat next to an adult and laid across their lap could ask for a back rub.  Not in the middle of the adults talking, necessarily.  And not when Dad had a cup of coffee.  But in general.  It was a soothing and bonding thing.

Even if there was conversation and coffee, it might be possible to lean over and settle in.  Which might possibly lead to desultory rubbing, without asking, if you were lucky.  The desultory rubs were never as good as the deliberate ones, but they were better than nothing if you were in the mood.

On a more active level, Dad, and a couple of the younger uncles, used to pop our toes.  Sometimes a big play would be made about trapping the bare foot of a sitting child and slowly pulling on each toe, one by one, until each joint cracked.  Of course, sometimes we asked for it, too.  We'd lay on the floor near a seated adult and wave a bare foot.

As we got older, we started doing it to each other.  And to ourselves.  We learned that tipping the joint sideways would often crack the joint with less effort.  But you had to be more careful using that method, because it would hurt if you cranked down too sharply.  

So, back rubs and toe popping.  Two things that my family did right.  

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