Thursday, May 17, 2012

What I Learned from 1st Grade Girls

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.



Alison said...

Absolutely. I was very aware as I grew up that our family was not a touchy-feely one, and I craved touch!! That's part of the reason I love dogs so much, because that was the only member of our family we could hug, stroke, etc.

I remember visiting my dad in icu pre-heart transplant, when we didn't know if he'd survive. He was heavily sedated, minimally conscious, and my mom just sat there not knowing what to do. I had to tell her to reach out and touch him, hold his hand. How sad that this "anti-touch" dogma had sunk so far into her psyche she'd lost the instinct to make contact with her own husband!

C. Beth said...

Love this, Liz. I think it's awesome how my kids want to hug their friends goodbye after a playdate. It's pretty awesome to hug the other mom goodbye (or hello, or whatever) too!

Cyndy Bush said...

I love this. We were also not a touchy-feely family and I try so hard to be different with my kids.
Something I learned from my teenage daughter is to tell people that you love them. Those girls are SO loving with each other and it occurred to me one day...why am I not more like this? What do I have to lose by just telling someone how much I love or appreciate them? And it's really brought me closer to some people.
I never knew how much my kids would teach ME!

Rebecca said...

Yes, your first grader is right as is my first grader. Love those hugs and the contact with others.

Mellodee said...

Absolutely and completely right!!

Nancy said...

I love hugs! I went on a trip with Delainey's class for the second time. Several of the kids know me in the class because I show up for lunch. One of the little boys came up to me and gave me a big hug. It made me smile to know that this little boy I barely know feels comfortable enough with me to give me a hug.

I will be looking forward to a hug next time I see you!

Karen M. Peterson said...

I'm a hugger, too. You are absolutely right about the physical connection and how important it is.