Category Archives: childhood memories

Tickle Therapy

Ever since I can remember, I have loved being tickled. Not the kind of tickling that tortures the bladder. My two older brothers would sometimes find incredible amounts of enjoyment tickling me (their little baby sister) until I nearly wet my pants. I forgave them for this years ago. For this and for putting ice cubes down my swim suit and for accidentally sending my gerbil, Costello, off to gerbil heaven long before it was time, and for locking me out of their bedroom and for always sticking me in the middle on long car rides and for…

Oops, I guess I am getting somewhat off topic. No, the tickling I enjoyed was the kind I received from my mom. Some of my favorite memories as a child involved lying on the couch with either my legs stretched out across my mom’s lap or flipped around with my head resting on her leg, and my arms stretched across her lap. My mom was the best tickler. I tend to believe she excelled at this job because I gave her plenty of hours of practice.

It got to the point in our tickle giver/tickle receiver relationship where words became unnecessary. I would lie down on the couch next to her where she would be sitting and reading a book and assume the tickling position. She would begin, holding a book in one hand and tickling me with the other. As she read, she sometimes became distracted and would briefly forget to perform the unspoken task in front of her. The tips of her fingers would stop momentarily and rest against my skin. Often, I would refocus her by slightly twitching my leg or my arm (whichever appendage was being pampered at the moment). The twitching method was my subtle way of letting my mom know that more tickling was in order. It proved successful most of the time too. My mom would instinctively resume, gently and ever so softly moving her fingertips back and forth. It was the most relaxing feeling.

When my designated tickler was not available (even the most skilled ticklers need breaks sometimes) I would resort to the back-up tickling plan, a blanket-with-a-softy. This particular blanket had a border made of the softest and silkiest material. As a child, I would snuggle under my blanket-with-a-softy, take one of the silky corners, and create my own personal tickling device. It never quite compared to the real thing but, if I ran the edge of that softy slowly down my arms or across my cheek, it was the best alternative to my mom that I could find.

Thirty years later and I still like being tickled. My husband knows I much prefer back tickling over back massages. Within a matter of seconds after his fingertips first start moving up and down my back any tension I might be feeling quickly fades away. I close my eyes and savor the mini-vacation at the Tickle Therapy Resort…

Sometimes when I tuck my son into bed at night, he will fling his arm up over his head and say, “Mommy, could you tickle my arm for a little bit?”

I gently move my hand back and forth across his arm.

“A little more to the right, Mommy.”

I shift my fingers ever so slightly, “How’s that?”

“Ahh! That’s the spot.”