'Weird' Bonding Moments Between Parents and Kids That Only They Understand

It's better to be weird than boring! Whether it's a silly handshake or a secret sound—here's why the unusual things only we do with our kids can last a lifetime.

Mom and son bonding

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Ever since my son was born two years ago, I've wanted to eat him. OK—not literally, but he's so delicious I could gobble him up! Those chubby cheeks; those rolly thighs; that sweet, little nose. Every part of him is just yummy to kiss, and pinch, and love. I'm always telling him, "Mommy loves you so much, I might eat you." He laughs, we cuddle, and he gives me "kissies." Recently, I said, "Mommy loves you so much—" and he interrupted me to finish my sentence, proudly reporting in his adorable baby voice, "You might eat me." We giggled and giggled, and it was special and sweet.

Although this is a moment I will treasure for years to come, I fully understand that sharing this story here may have a few of you scrunching up your faces in a mixture of horror or disgust. Telling a child you're going to eat him? Weird, right? But maybe you're still with me because we all have those "weird inside things" we do with our kids that others wouldn't get, right?

Speaking of weird, something I have been telling my older children for years is, "I'd rather be weird than boring." Because I love being weird and having fun with them—just ask my brood about the times I assume Midwestern or Southern accents when we're out and about, despite being from New York. We now say this mantra to one another anytime we're acting particularly silly or see someone else enjoying marching to the beat of their own drum.

I came across a popular Reddit thread titled, "Weird inside things that you and your kids do that don't make sense to anyone but you guys," and I was immediately drawn in. The original poster (OP) kicked off the conversation by confessing her particular method of beckoning her kids home for dinner from playing outside, saying she "opened the window by the plants and did the 'come here call' (which is just me cawing like a rooster very loudly)."

"I'm not needing to yell my children's names 10 million times," she continued, adding, "We also have a system where I'll do a short 'caw' where I am just checking in, and they 'caw' back, so I can see or hear where they are—or a long caw where they need to come to me."

The OP then issued a callout for others to share the weird things they do with their kids. The internet was ready with answers that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

One of my favorite shares went like this: "Me and my son play a game called 'mine.' It's pretty simple. We play this in my bed. I hug him with arms and legs, and he has to try and escape while I say 'mine' (like the seagulls in Finding Nemo). We started this when he was about 2 or 3, and he still asks to play now. He's 12 now though, and almost the same size as me—plus I'm aware that some people would think it's very odd, so we don't play as much."

Another poster shared, "I will randomly become a baby T. rex. I pull my hands up, take enormous knee-up marching steps, and try to catch and 'eat' my kids. It started when they were really little, and even my teenagers ask me to do it still. They. Love. It."

What the many, many stories parents shared on Reddit have in common with what we do in our family is that the "weird inside things" parents do with little ones stays with them, and become treasured traditions, even as kids grow up. Sure, they'll act all cool—and like they barely know you in public—but you'll always have that moment later on, back at home when your teen turns to you and says, "mine," or laughs when you mimic a dinosaur at dinnertime, or in my case, shrugs knowingly after I've done something super uncool, and says with a smile, "I know mom. You'd rather be weird than boring."

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