I squish people. It’s weird, but that’s what happens with all boys.


I grew up with four brothers, and I think that altered the way affection was handled in our family. Sure, mom gave out hugs, but it never felt manly. Instead something strange began to develop. Squishing. It is in no way a hug, rather one brother would grab the other in a bear hug (again not a hug, more of a wrestling move where the other person’s arms and trapped at their sides) squeeze them until there was a grunt of troubled breathing, and on occasions lift them into the air.

Variations on this began to develop. Squishing a person into a wall (always important to be wearing shoes for this you just slid away). Or Squishing them while they sat on the couch (again you need shoes to avoid sliding).

After years of this a problem began to develop. One of my nephews who was new to this, started squishing people’s heads instead of full body grabs focusing the meaty chest muscles, and it hurt. And we told him it hurt, and he didn’t stop.


I remember one time when he squished his cousin’s head, I had a talk with him about it. I was very serious and told him it was hurting people and he should stop doing it. His answer was, “I’m not going to listen to that.”

I spent the next few days thinking what I’d done wrong. I know he means well. I know he’s just having fun, but no matter how many times we tell him it hurt, he refuses to change. Even the serious conversation only upset him. I considered squishing his head so he could recognize that it hurt, but that also seemed like a bad idea.

It took a few months of thinking about the problem for me to realize a solution. The feedback of the squish is the grunt, the slightly labored breathing. If he got no reaction from squishing people’s heads, and maybe slightly exaggerated grunts from normal squishes he would change.

It seemed like a good plan, but the problem is I’m not the only person he squishes. So, it continues until I can find a new solution, or get others in on the change in feedback.