When you think about the meaning of the word bandit, most likely the synonyms outlaw, thief or gangster come to mind. But what if I told you there is another kind of bandit?
In fact, I used to be one. At least that’s what my three foster kids — Charlie, Nick, and Ava — would have told you during the year they were in the care of my then wife Sharon and myself.
Hold the phone! Before you go calling the cops and have the sirens blaring for them to come and nab me as I’m getting out of my car, take a chill pill.
I wasn’t that kind of bandit. I didn’t hold up banks or liquor stores and such. I held up my foster kids and kissed their whole face until they nearly stopped breathing from their hysterical laughter. To them, I was known as the “kissing bandit.”
They never knew when I was going to strike. But it was always when they least expected it. If there is one thing my foster kids knew about me, it’s that I loved them with my whole heart.
Now before I go any further, I must tell you that I got my kissing capabilities honestly. My mother is the culprit. She has been known as the “kissing lady” through three generations of my family.
So the fact I was the kissing bandit with my foster kids, I kind of couldn’t help myself. Ingrained in me as a child, I was recipient of the “kissing lady’s” loving affection countless times through the years.
But when it came to my foster kids, I would sometimes hide in a dark corner of the dining room — where we stored their coloring books, crayons, and other artistic paraphernalia — and wait for one of them to come bounding into the room. Then I would make my surprise attack by wrestling them to the floor.
It’s funny how the kissing bandit and the tickle monster always seemed to work together. I just couldn’t help myself. It was way to easy. Their fits of laughter would sound out the alarm for the other two to come running.
Of all three of my foster kids, Charlie, the 8-year-old, had the most infectious laugh. His uncontrollable giggle was so contagious and irresistible, the younger two couldn’t help but want to be a part of whatever was happening, which is typically why I started with the most lovable.
Ava, my little princess, was more shy and reserved, although she was beginning to come around the longer we had her in our home. However, Nick, the middle child, was the most difficult to be affectionate toward. He did not like hugs or kisses. I liked both.
For some reason, Nick always looked toward his older brother for approval. If Charlie said it was OK, he would willingly go along with it. Now that could be good or bad depending on what they were about to do.
But in this case, it was a very good thing because it helped to break down that brick wall Nick had built up around himself and allowed me to get to the heart of that little boy.
When Nick and Ava entered the dining room, I was tickling Charlie on his tummy and kissing his cheeks and forehead. They pretended to try and pull me away from their older brother, but I knew that only meant one thing — they wanted to be next.
Then I would snatch up Ava and throw her in the air before cradling her with both arms. The little 4-year-old would break out in giggles, then her belly would jiggle. I just had to give her a zerbert.
Last but not least, Nick would just stand there stiff as a board waiting for me to grab him; and grab him I would, after I removed his eyeglasses and placed them on the dining table, of course.
The 6-year-old would break out in a blood curdling scream because he knew what was coming next. I thought my eardrums would pop. Then his screams melted into giggles as I would tickle his little feet. The tickle monster always knew the right spot. Nick was the most comical of all. He would just close his eyes and let me kiss his whole face.
Before it was all said and done, the three siblings were totally exhausted from their hysterical laughter and playful antics; and they would all fall on top of one another like a hemp of laundry giggling even harder.
By the time Sharon came down the hall, I picked them up off the floor and said, “What are you kids doing in here making all this noise. It’s way past your bedtime. Skedaddle!” They ran past my then wife and dashed into their bedrooms jumping under the covers wondering where and when the kissing bandit would strike again.