Friday, December 14, 2012

Hug Your Children

I have been admonished to do this at least seventy-five times today and I will.

It's natural, that urge to gather loved ones close in the face of horror. The sudden and violent reminder that life is so very precious and short shakes us to our cores and we seek to reassure ourselves that we are all okay. Hug your children.

It won't change anything. There are still families who will be spending their holidays at funerals with impossibly small caskets, at bedsides, in fear and in mourning. There are children who will suffer nightmares and untold damage from witnessing atrocities that no one should see first hand, or second hand, or third, or ever. A mother will go to her house tonight and see an empty pair of shoes by the door, perhaps, or a pile of toys in an unmade bed. She will weep, unable to touch them. Or she will be beyond tears and lie down among them, inhaling the remaining traces of play and laughter and sweet innocence that linger in them. Or she will close the door and walk away, scrub the floor, smash the dishes, go for a run - anything to try to escape the unrelenting pain of death come out of order. I don't know what she will do, because I am not that mother. I have not been that mother. My own children will argue with me tonight about brushing their teeth and I will be relieved when they finally lie down and are still. I will check for their breathing and I will sit quietly and knit and go about my life in my whole and happy home. Hug your children.

It will change everything. Hug them because it's Friday. Hug them because you want to strangle them. Hug them because they are silly. Hug them because they are there. Hug them because they are warm and wiggly and smell vaguely of hamsters. Hug them because it's your job. Hug them because their little sensual buckets need to be filled up with sincere affection and affirmation. Hug them because it is from you that they learn how to love - not from your lofty speeches and declarations, but from your actions. Hug them because it is so important for them to feel comfortable in little bodies and hearts and your physical presence reassures them and teaches them to love themselves. Hug them and let them know they are not alone. Hug them when you are angry. Hug them when you are scared. Hug them when you are completely cuckoo. Hug them when they are sleeping, when they are awake, when they are doing something else and have to holler: "Mo-ooommm! Get off me!" Hug them in front of their friends. Hug them along with their friends. And don't just hug your children. Hug them all. Don't be creepy, but you know there are children in your lives whom it is perfectly acceptable for you to hug. Do it. You don't know what they need, what they get, what they want. Everyone needs a hug. Always. Hug your children.

My heart breaks for the families in Connecticut today. It is not my personal tragedy, I won't pretend it is. I have not spent my afternoon surrounded by emergency vehicles and television cameras, living through a parent's worst nightmare in 3-D. I will not presume to claim this as my own.

Even so, it is my tragedy. It is a tragedy that belongs to all of us as we share in the tiniest degree of their fear, their anguish, their horror, their anger and their dread. It is our tragedy because we cower at the idea suddenly brought to light that our world contains such pain, such sickening violence. It is our tragedy because we empathize, we sympathize, we agonize over these very things. Hug your children.

Hug them, not because we have collectively shared a tragedy today. Hug them so that we can avoid future tragedy. Hug them and take their pulse. Hug them and teach them that sadness need not be anger, and anger need not be violent, and violence is never a solution worth exploring. Hug them and listen to what they tell you with their own actions, the language that does not lie. Hug them and teach them to do the same. Hug them and tell them to live with love, not fear. Hug them and show them how. Hug your children.


  1. sorry. i had to rewrite since i am using an ipad and my fingers have muddled everything up. here is what i wrote earlier.

    I AM getting angry at all of this. the facility with which nutbars can rule our lives, affect leadership choices and mash a great constitution into something resembling papier mache.

    while wife beating stills goes on, it is considered abberant now. at one time it was ok to beat your wife and even a right of man. the bible itself supports the notion of beating a slave.

    yet these ideas change. i grew up on hunted food and i ate my first french fries when i was a teen. my father stopped hunting when he started making enough money to buy meat at the store. he gave his guns away and spent the last days of his life admiring the little birds that he left food out for.

    death and killing are fundamentally ugly things. i know that yet i should hardly speak of this in this way as i eat my steak. i read that even lettuce might have feelings so there is no real way out of this double standard.

    eating beef however will not lead me to eat children.

    i read of the mayhem each day in chicago and since i live in mexico death here is ever present. it is even a business. yet even the cruelest butcher is some mothers son. guns are simply not necessary today. they are not. it used to be a sport to throw christians to lions. that has stopped. killing wolves in a park is not a sport. death will always be a loss.

    the nra likes its guns. it is a podium for political action supported by many in america for reasons that often have nothing to do with guns.

    my take on self defence... if a person can afford the cost of the horror of killings, a person can afford security. more taxes, more cops, even more private cops for those rich enough to have property worth killing for.

    nuff said. sorry for the ramble.

  2. I have been out of circulation for weeks. Mid-way through the day, after struggling to absorb not just the tragic reality of this situation but the insanity (and even insensitivity) of some of the coverage, I just knew I had to come here, just to check in and see what you might have to say. I am so, so glad I did. Thank you.

  3. I will hug them for as long as they let me. Today, tomorrow, and forever. You captured so much here that I just cannot put into words. Thank you for this.

  4. Thanks, thanks, thanks. Especially for "violence is never a solution worth exploring." I still can't write about it. I'm so grateful for those of you who can.

  5. Thank you for these words of peace and reason in the middle of all this horror.

  6. I cannot add anything here. Instead, I will send my wishes for love, peace, and strength to all those affected by senseless violence. I think that includes all of us on some level.


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