Permission to hug

Yesterday afternoon, I was talking to Palmer, and he seemed kind of down. His ear is bothering him and he was coughing a little. So I told him to go get a big hug from his Daddy. Then he said that he had tried to give his teacher at school a hug, and she had not hugged him back. We talked about how strange it is that his teachers in Kindergarten do not give him a hug, when his teachers in preschool did, especially Guðrun in Iceland always gave him a big hug every day before he left. I told him that is the difference between preschool and regular school, that the teachers don't give hugs. 

Maybe it also has something to do with the US, where all those child molestation cases and lawsuits have gotten people completely freaked out about touching children. But a hug is an incredibly healthy and therapeutic thing, and suddenly, that my son's teacher did not offer him a hug seemed so wrong to me. 

Why really is the world like this? Why really do we put up these sorts of barriers, these sorts of boundaries, to keep people at a distance?  

It is a lesson, it is a habit, drilled into us from a young age. 

It is a lesson I have always resisted, and it is one I hope my son resists as well. When I was at Vest Norden last week, I was my normal friendly, outgoing self. Which means I touched people on the arm when I was talking to them, gave the girl at the stall across from me a hug goodbye, etc. One man said to me, you must not be Icelandic. Maybe not. But it is not very American of me either. I hope, though, that it is rather human of me. 

I suppose I need to give Palmer's teacher written permission to hug my son.  Too bad the simplest things have become so bureaucratic.                        


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