oh, adolescence is going to be fun.
the kids and i just returned from a trip to what passes as an army-navy type store in our little upscale enclave of nirvana. (this being arlington, it’s more of an outdoorsy, camping, indy REI-like thing. no soldier of fortune mags here.) while at the army-navy store, BC saw a preppy little girlfriend from school who i’ve not yet met. they smiled at each other, and then BC did what she does with all her other girlfriends: she hugged her.
the other girl loudly announced: that was weird, rolled her eyes, and then stalked away.
BC looked at me a little puzzled.
that was rude, i retorted. who is that girl?
a girl i know from school, BC replied.
perhaps she doesn’t like to be hugged? i asked.
no, we hug at school.
BC and i are huggers. we are affectionate people. part of it may be cultural mixed with gender; but i suspect we is who we is. i remember the first time i met my father in law, a very shy and quiet man. he held out his hand to me; i took it and i hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. he was taken aback, i’m sure; i remember him stiffening up. i of course thought i had made the Blunder To End All Blunders.
but from then on until the day he passed twenty-one years later, that man always had a hug and a kiss for me. what’s more — he started to hug and kiss my husband, too.
i realize that some people are really nervous about their personal space. they fear getting close to people in both the literal as well as the figurative sense. i just don’t have that fear. maybe i’m stupid because of it, but there are very few people i genuinely dislike. and not one that i hate, not matter how crappy he or she might have treated me. (i let karma take care of things like that. i don’t waste my time plotting any sort of revenge scenario.)
but the hippie in me believes that love is contagious. and so even though there are people in the world who don’t care for me, i still greet them with a hug and a smile. you never know how you might change someone’s day, someone’s year, someone’s life.
so i thought: how sad. this child is going to make my BC feel self-conscious about embracing the world and all the people in it.
not on my watch.
BC, i said to her as we drove away, there are some people in the world who just don’t deserve a hug from you. but there are lots of people who will always welcome those things.