Wednesday, July 1, 2015


     I'm a five-hugs-a-day guy. I feel better, do better, and am better when I get this daily minimum allowance.
     When the kids were young, this was no problem, either because they wanted more (especially Braden) or they had no choice—we could hold them at will.
     But things changed fast, especially for Pene, and by the time she was a toddler, she made very clear when she wasn't in the hugging or cuddling mood by stiff-arming my chest with both her hands, leaning back, and turning her head away.
     I tease her now about her evading my hugs and say, “You hurt my feelings when you did that! It's as if you were saying, 'Stay away from me, I don't want any of that!'”
     She smiles to such remarks, of course not remembering a thing. Which brings me to today's standings:
  • Deanne will share a hug with me in mornings before I leave for work and usually in bed at night before I fall asleep at around eight-fifteen.
  • Jaren shares a close hug with me at bedtime and will happily share more when asked. At seven years old he's getting big for climbing aboard my lap at bedtime, but neither of us mind, so I'm not telling.
  • Pene, a grown reproductive-capable woman at age twelve now gives me air hugs (sans chest-to-chest contact) at bed time. I'm currently reading the Lord of the Rings to her, which we both enjoy so much, and we feel so close, that though I miss closer hugs, I'm not pressing it. When I was about her age, my parents (especially Mom 'cause Dad was never much of a hugger) stopped hugging me on a daily basis because I preferred it that way (with some later regreta). And it worked okay with us and I believe that that's where Pene's at with me now, needing her space. (On more than a couple occasions, I've asked Deanne to remind Pene to keep behind closed doors when changing and not bend over when wearing revealing tops. It's all lady-stuff she needs to be aware of, so now's as good a time as any to learn. I suspect this lady awareness also includes not pressing so close to Dad...)
  • Braden receives almost no hugs from us. This has been going on for years. I don't feel the desire to hug him, perhaps because we've had so many ugly fights, or perhaps because he's adopted sloppy dress and appearance as his default style, or perhaps because he often smells odoriferous, or perhaps because he doesn't want to be hugged because he values independence and autonomy above hugs, which he may consider mainly “for little kids.”
     Funny how at age fifty-three I'm far from being a little kid yet feel the need for hugs at least as often as Jaren. My closest and longest and most intimate hugs are now shared with Deanne. In the mornings, when we hug and Deanne prays for me while I stroke her hair, back, and arms—my way of saying bye to her—I allow myself to draw strength from her.
     Some may say it's not right to draw strength from her and that I should instead draw all my strength from God. But then the Bible makes clear it's good to be with another. For in the event one falls, the other may assist. And I so often these days feel as if I were falling-mostly due to assorted health maladies.
     It's too bad hugging isn't more widely accepted. Even elementary school teachers here in the Aloha State (or “Love” State), where hugging and adorning visitors with lei has so long been a cultural norm, and where hugs from “Aunties” and “Uncles” (adult friends, or acquaintances) are generally accepted, seem to restrict hugs to only the youngest keiki (kids), seemingly in fear of accusations of fondling or inappropriate touch.
     In church, too, it's all air hugs if any at all.
     And even in our extended ohana (family), only Mom still gives me close hugs. (My brother-in-law's sister touches her ear and/or cheek to mine while we air hug, which is nice, but interesting—first time I've experienced it, maybe a new way of doing it that I just didn't know about.)
     And at my workplace, hugging is virtually taboo due to sexual harassment fears and concerns. (In Japan, coworkers on company outings may relax at onsen (hot springs resorts), soaking together nude—same sex only, of course. Wonder how that would play in America? Although once, while working at a CPA firm we males all showered together after playing in a tennis tournament in preparation for our company banquet, but that was in Seattle where locker room etiquette is different from here...)
     On the flip side, while it's true that we don't want to open things up (especially for our kids) to potential abuse, I nonetheless believe that something is lost when people of any age don't receive ample hugs and that the world would be a far better place would everyone receive more than enough. It's simple. Easy. Free. And so healthy and beneficial. Why not indulge more?

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