When I am having a bad day or even when I'm just happy to see someone, I like hugging.
I used to be a big time hugger- you couldn't meet me and not end up with a hug. Somewhere along the line, that happened less and less but is something I've been finding myself doing more and more again.
And yesterday, I learned something from 1st grade girls.
Physical connection to people you care about is important.
Our society has made skin to skin contact of any sort automatically sexual. And it simply isn't true. We see people holding hands and assume it's a romantic thing. We hug someone and lead to all kinds of conclusions based on whether or not the hug was 1 arm, 2 arms, body pressed to body, how long the hug lasted, and so on.
That makes me sad. I think kindness can be shown through a connection like touching. You can read all kinds of articles on the importance of a gentle touch on the arm or holding the hand of an elderly person or seriously ill person. We know that the gentle caress between a mother and baby is important to bonding. One of the main tenets of the benefits of breastfeeding is the skin to skin contact.
And yet- there's this sense that someone who hugs a lot is a little wonky. Someone who holds someone else's hand is affectionate in a romantic way.
I had 3 little girls in my group yesterday. 3 little girls who are great friends. They have fun together, they laugh, they get silly, they are serious when they work together. And one of the ways they show that they are connected, that they care about each other, that they like each other is by holding hands or putting an arm around a waist or shoulders.
I loved it. And it reminded me of the importance of reaching out to those you care about. It reminded me that holding a hand or putting an arm around a friend or holding on tight during a hug is one of many ways that we show someone that we care.
The next time you see me in person, there just might be a big hug for you. Or if we sit together to talk through something difficult in your life, I might reach over and hold your hand. Or if I'm needing a shoulder to cry on, I might take the phrase more literally.