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"Hug your kids extra tight" became a sort of mantra Friday, after news of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting began to spread. In fact, hugging, as Wilson Rothman, an editor at NBC News Digital and father of two young children, writes, "instantly went Gangnam Style viral."
They also let the little things that so often have parents turning red -- or at least yelling a little louder than they'd probably like to admit -- go for now, he adds. Like, when his son, age 2, threw a fit at a public swimming pool. Rothman writes that he just "smiled and swept him up" in his arms.
Other parents were doing the same thing. Rothman writes that his cousin didn't even flinch when her daughter spilled an entire box of cereal and that his wife was fine giving in to their 4-year-old's plea for a snack on the way to eat brunch.
"Helicopter parenting probably got a sizable bump over the weekend," he writes. "Parents we know announced on Facebook that their kids could sleep in their beds, while others … shut down sleepover plans by declaring, 'It's family night across the country.'"
I was right there, too. "Sorry, sweetie, no playdates today," I told my second grader, who didn't seem to mind that I was hugging and kissing her on the playground in front of all her friends that Friday. "We're going to go home and watch a Christmas movie and snuggle on the couch."
When my kindergartener walked out of her classroom door that day, I swept her up and covered her face with kisses. She just hugged and kissed right back and I was happy to be wearing sunglasses so she couldn't see the tears welling up in my eyes.
Yes, that spilled glass of milk at dinner last night? No big deal. The dropped Christmas decoration she has been told a thousand times not to touch? It's okay. All those clothes on the floor, and not in the laundry basket? We'll cut her a little slack.
But will this parenting feeling endure?
"If we rededicate ourselves to the spirit of kindness and charity in our hearts, and to love and patience towards our children, then there is at least some redemption (from the tragedy)," Rothman asserts. "Still, if the effect wears off Jan. 1, we do a profound disservice to the parents in Newtown, who are paying a terrible price for our newfound parental bliss."
He's right. We have our children with us. Those tiny arms wrapped around our necks. Those sweet "Mommy, I love you forever," murmurs before bedtime. The sound of those infectious giggles as they play with Dad in the other room. They all serve as reminders that we are so grateful for these moments that all the messes, complaints and misbehaviors just don't seem as bad as they did a week ago. Let's do our best not to forget.