There are so many things I miss in quarantine – like conviviality, and smiling at strangers and hugging friends; but above all I miss holding my kids’ hands. But that’s an unexpected result of quarantine. Not because we’re social distancing from each other.
I don’t consider myself an overly-touchy guy. I mean – touchy as in sensitive? Sure. I’m defensive.
But touchy as in touching people? Not overly so. But I do hug and do single kisses in NYC or double kisses with my family from France.)
But this social distancing is increasingly for the birds. I want to touch people – shake hands and hug. I don’t want to overthink the space between myself and my neighbor as we chat bout the weather.
My aforementioned French adoptive mother got together with some dear girlfriends of hers and none of them touched while they all held their distance. She said it was unnatural and certainly un-French. “We’re Latins! We touch constantly and feel each other both passively and actively. This world is not for me, Gavin. I can’t do it.”
While I’m not French, I do get it. This isn’t human or natural for us.
Mostly, I miss holding my kids’ hands.
But for me, the by-product is that we don’t walk to school, anymore. And that was my kids’ time to hold my hands.
I always found it sort of funny for the past few years watching parents walk their kids to our elementary school. It never looked like any children ever walked themselves. I always wondered if it’s a law that elementary-aged children all have to be walked to school? Are we afraid of kidnappers or traffic or drug-dealers? Because you and I know we all walked to school alone beginning in kindergarten. Maybe not alone, but at least unaccompanied by adults. Just us kids – spinning tales, recounting Christmas wishes, making fun of young crushes, bullying the gay kids.
(Oops. Knee-jerk reaction on that last one. I’ll save it for another post.)
Point being: my kids and all their peers walk to school and many hold their parents’ hands…up to fifth grade.
I used to find it sort of silly. But now what I wouldn’t give to hold my kids’ hand when they’re in current grades and for another few to fifth.
Now that we aren’t walking to school, there’s no reason for me to play any variation of hand-squeezing games:
- I squeeze your hand two times and you squeeze my hand two times.
- I squeeze your hand as we release and make way for a street sign or a tree.
- I jerk your hand toward me to pull you with me around this street sign, you squeal with delight and jerk me toward you to walk with you around that tree.
- I jerk your hand back to keep you from mindlessly walking into traffic.
- I hold your hand delicately as we walk to school in silence.
- I release your hand because your inability to Just. Friggin. Walk. Is driving me crazy as you skip and tug and pull my hand around annoyingly.
Sigh. I want to be annoyed by my kid’s inability to Just. Friggin’. Walk. again.
Now, when we go out on walks (not the same as walking to school) I’ll find a reason to grab their hand. They’re game for it, still. Not embarrassed or too old for it. But it’s different.
If nothing else, I’m more mindful of it. And we could all do with more mindfulness.
I hope after all of this passes and we have an international ceremonial “burning of the masks” that lights the skies around the world for a full 24 hours (hm…patent that idea and file it away for when it happens) I wonder if we’ll go back to being super-touchy French and semi-touchy Americans? Or have we re-calibrated our paranoid brains to simply touch less?
We already live in an overly-analytical and cerebral place. We need more invited and welcome touch, not less. Never again do I want to miss holding my kids’ hands.