“Where’s My Kiss, Then?”

“Where’s My Kiss, Then?”

From Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul

“Where’s My Kiss, Then?”

There once was a little girl named Cindy. Cindy’s father worked six days a week, and often came home tired from the office. Her mother worked equally hard, doing the cleaning, the cooking and the many tasks needed to run a family. Theirs was a good family, living a good life. Only one thing was missing, but Cindy didn’t even realize it.

One day, when she was nine, she went on her first sleepover. She stayed with her friend Debbie. At bedtime, Debbie’s mother tucked the girls into bed. She kissed them both good night.

“Love you,” said Debbie’s mother.

“Love you, too,” murmured Debbie.

Cindy was so amazed that she couldn’t sleep. No one had ever kissed her good night. No one had ever kissed her at all. No one had ever told her that they loved her. All night long, she lay there, thinking over and over, This is the way it should be.

When she went home, her parents seemed pleased to see her.

“Did you have fun at Debbie’s house?” asked her mother.

“The house felt awfully quiet without you,” said her father.

Cindy didn’t answer. She ran up to her room. She hated them both. Why had they never kissed her? Why had they never hugged her or told her they loved her? Didn’t they love her?

She wished she could run away. She wished she could live with Debbie’s mother. Maybe there had been a mistake and these weren’t her real parents. Maybe Debbie’s mother was her real mother.

That night before bed, she went to her parents.

“Well, good night then,” she said. Her father looked up from his paper.

“Good night,” he said.

Her mother put down her sewing and smiled. “Good night, Cindy.”

No one made a move. Cindy couldn’t stand it any longer.

“Why don’t you ever kiss me?” she asked.

Her mother looked flustered. “Well,” she stammered, “because, I guess . . . because no one ever kissed me when I was little. That’s just the way it was.”

Cindy cried herself to sleep. For many days she was angry. Finally she decided to run away. She would go to Debbie’s house and live with them. She would never go back to the parents who didn’t love her.

She packed her backpack and left without a word. But once she got to Debbie’s house, she couldn’t go in. She decided that no one would believe her. No one would let her live with Debbie’s parents. She gave up her plan and walked away.

Everything felt bleak and hopeless and awful. She would never have a family like Debbie’s. She was stuck forever with the worst, most loveless parents in the world.

Instead of going home, she went to a park and sat on a park bench. She sat there for a long time, thinking, until it grew dark. All of a sudden, she saw the way. This plan would work. She would make it work.

When she walked into her house, her father was on the phone. He hung up immediately. Her mother was sitting with an anxious expression on her face. The moment Cindy walked in, her mother called out, “Where have you been? We’ve been worried to death!”

Cindy didn’t answer. Instead she walked up to her mother, gave her a kiss right on the cheek and said, “I love you, Mom.” Her mother was so startled that she couldn’t speak. Cindy marched up to her dad. She gave him a hug. “Good night, Dad,” she said. “I love you.” And then she went to bed, leaving her speechless parents in the kitchen.

The next morning when she came down to breakfast, she gave her mother a kiss. She gave her father a kiss. At the bus stop, she stood on tiptoe and kissed her mother.

“Bye, Mom,” she said. “I love you.”

And that’s what Cindy did, every day of every week of every month. Sometimes her parents drew back from her, stiff and awkward. Sometimes they laughed about it. But they never returned the kiss. But Cindy didn’t stop. She had made her plan. She kept right at it. Then, one evening, she forgot to kiss her mother before bed. A short time later, the door of her room opened. Her mother came in.

“Where’s my kiss, then?” she asked, pretending to be cross.

Cindy sat up. “Oh, I forgot,” she said. She kissed her mother.

“I love you, Mom.” She lay down again. “Good night,” she said and closed her eyes. But her mother didn’t leave. Finally she spoke.

“I love you, too,” her mother said. Then her mother bent down and kissed Cindy, right on the cheek. “And don’t ever forget my kiss again,” she said, pretending to be stern.

Cindy laughed. “I won’t,” she said. And she didn’t.

Many years later, Cindy had a child of her own, and she kissed that baby until, as she put it, “Her little cheeks were red.”

And every time she went home, the first thing her mother would say to her was, “Where’s my kiss, then?” And when it was time to leave, she’d say, “I love you. You know that, don’t you?”

“Yes, Mom,” Cindy would say. “I’ve always known that.”

M. A. Urquhart
Adapted from an Ann Landers column

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