In my parenting class last week, we discussed our pre-teens and sexuality. Fun topic. About as fun as ripping off a hang nail - but it’s something you have to do at some point. I mentioned that when I see my daughter greet her girlfriends, they hug each other. I also shared with my parenting class that when a friend holds her arms and hands down by her sides, it is her way of saying, “I don’t want a hug.” I observed my daughter. Right away she was quick to retract her arms which were already open to give a hug. She understood the body language - her friend didn’t want a hug. Kudos to both girls in this situation. One for using body language to convey that she was not down with hugging and the other, for respecting that.
I don’t think I started hugging my friends in middle school (west coasters call it junior high). But I do have such fond memories of hugging all my friends in high school. I think about how hugging was really my first step in showing affection to people who were not in my family. I don’t remember a time when someone refused a hug during my high school years but maybe I didn’t catch the body language. Maybe we didn’t know as much about safe touches as the kids do these days. I know that we don’t want to think about our kids and their next steps of showing affection, but my hope is that respecting the safety for other phases of touching continues to be as common practice as wearing a seat belt.
As I think about hugs and Hugging Day approaching on January 21st, I wonder how many people wouldn’t want to receive a hug? A hug is a thoughtful pinch that costs absolutely zero dollars and requires no gift receipts. I think there are plenty of people out there who wouldn’t mind receiving hugs but I wonder if there are many people out there who don’t like giving hugs. I feel like if it was a germ thing, hand shaking is way more riskier. Although, hugging someone who is heavily perfumed or cologned means we take the risk of smelling like them the whole day. Which could be a good thing but mostly, I’m guessing it’s not a good thing.
The endearment of a hug totally outweighs second-hand scents or catching germs or the makeup or the deodorant from the other person left on my shirt. If you’re like me and your primary love language is touch - HUGS ARE A BIG F’N DEAL! Hugs are a squeeze and a salutation all in one. A hug is a gift that warms anyone in an instant. A hug is an opportunity to show gratitude. Hugging is a sign of peace. Damn, hugs rule!
Funny story: I volunteer at the school library and I give tours to parents who are considering enrolling at my kids’ school. This gives me opportunities to see my kids during school hours. Ever since my son started school, he has tried to be the cool kid. When I would see him at school and say Hi!, he would immediately avert his eyes, pretend not to see me and try to walk by. This behavior backfired because I would always walk over to him, plop a big kiss on his face and give him an exaggerated hug. Talk about embarrassing! I would loudly say Hi! not only to my son, but to all the friends watching this crazy gesture. I wanted him to know that people were definitely watching this. I would do this even if I was giving a tour of the school. Was it unprofessional of me? I like to think it added warmth and excitement. Finally, in third grade my son realized that if he didn’t come give me a hug when he saw me, he would be in for a classic display of parent gushing. Nowadays, I love that my son doesn’t care who is watching him when he comes rushing over to give me a hug. It’s the COOLEST THING IN THE WORLD!
According to nationaldaycalendar.com the history of National Hugging Day comes from the founder, Reverend Kevin Zaborney on March 29, 1986 in Caro, Michigan. Hugging Day is officially recognized by the US Copyright office but it is not a public holiday. There is National Hug Day and a Free Hugs Campaign but none of these are not related other than the act of hugging. It’s great to know there are many opportunities to give out hugs!
Before you go off hugging as many people as you can on January 21st and of course, posting on social media with the hashtag #Nationalhuggingday, I want thank my body work gal, Julie. She’s not a masseuse or a physical therapist but she does amazing work on my body. I went to see Julie because I had scar tissue located at the base of both of my ribs. Doctors weren’t concerned because in their eyes, I am super healthy. However, this area was so tender that when my kids would hug me (perfect height), I would actually wince because it hurt more than it brought me joy. I was so sick of feeling this way that I decided to take action. Now, hugs are pain free! I am 100% able to receive a big old bear hug from my daughter and I’m grateful that I met Julie - a friend for life.
P.S. Speaking of Julie - another Julie - Ms. Monahan, one of the media specialists at the kids’ school, reminded me that, “Hugs are literally good for us, too! They help lower blood pressure, our heart rate and the stress hormone, cortisol!”