huggers shirley

snuggling up, originally uploaded by kelanew.

remember that old sesame street bit about the two aliens (apparently called the geefle and the gonk) who are trying to eat some nectarines from a tree? the gonk is too short to reach them, and while the geefle can reach them, he can't bend his arms to get them to his mouth (never mind that this seems a terrible evolutionary adaptation on a planet where the only available food is nectarines, and the tale doesn't explain how the geefle managed to survive as a species thus far without previously establishing some sort of symbiotic relationship). they hit upon a solution wherein the geefle tosses nectarines down and the gonk in turn feeds both of them, and decide to give this process a name. the gonk says "let's call this 'cooperation'", and the geefle responds, "no, let's call it shirley." (video)

this story, and specifically the phrase "let's call it shirley", are firmly entrenched in the lore of my family growing up. (this, along with "duh stephanie" from full house, "johnny five is alive", any reference to the benniker gang, and of course, jokes about the lennox man.)

a few weeks ago, eva gave me a great hug. one of those hugs where the kid actually squeezes you rather than just flopping across your body, squeezing so tightly that she is compelled to let out a "ungh!" sound. she nestled into my neck and sighed. i squeezed back, and rocked side to side, supporting most of her body weight.

"mmm-uh. wow, that was a great hug, eva! maybe we should give that kind of a hug a name so we can remember it."
"okay! um... let's call it 'huggers-buggers'." [she's into rhyming endearments, gee wonder where she gets that. emma-lemma. hazel-basil. or larry's: eva-boliva-conceeva-bohneva. yes, really.]
"no," i said, reflexively taking my 25-years-old entrenched cue, "let's call it shirley!"

thus "huggers shirley" was born. we discussed that maybe at times when we were having trouble with each other, instead of arguing or yelling, one or the other of us could say "stop! let's do huggers shirley!" so that we could remember how much we love each other. (a few months ago we were into rubbing noses for the same purpose -- it's hard to stay frustrated with someone when your noses are touching. or, i know of other moms who will stop and smell their preschooler's head mid-breakdown to reestablish that connection.)

it's great. now she has specific (nonsensical, but effective) language to say "mama, i need to reconnect to you", and asks for it probably every other day. when we're having a hard day, when she's feeling anxiety about something (recently, school/social stuff), when i'm putting her to bed at night, when hazel's monopolizing my attention:

"mama, can we do huggers shirley?"

and i know never to turn her down. even if the food is about to burn or hazel is trying to teeth and nurse at the same time. it's a little contract of sorts, and we're both really enjoying it.

let's call it reconnecting! no, let's call it huggers shirley.
hey... want part of my nectarine?


Amanda Fowle said...

gotta figure out a way to steal this but make it authentic. :-)

Anonymous said...

I fondly remember "The Geefle & the Gonk" as the Nectarine Muppets. For such a small part of the Muppet world they left a strong impression on me. Good memories.