On Holding Hands
The strange thing is, I actually like holding hands.
But when I think about holding hands I think about my mom, and a story she tells of me when I was five.
Now me and my mom definitely don’t hold hands, not in a literal sense, not in a figurative sense. For many years we’ve been separated by distances measured by seas and lands, but more so by disconnection, disagreement and an inability to recognize the other in each other.
I mostly think of my mother as this person who birthed me, yet has never known me. Yet once in a while she shares a glimpse of the child I was and I get a moment’s respite for having been seen. I don’t know if she was right but this is what she told.
One day after kindergarten the teacher pulled my mom aside. She’d heard it before from other teachers, that Jody doesn’t listen, doesn’t do what she’s told, doesn’t always participate like the rest of the kids. Today we played a game in which we formed a circle and held hands. I did not want to hold hands.
Instead of getting angry or telling me what to do she asked the five year old me why I didn’t hold the other kids hands. Because, I responded, their hands were sweaty and I didn’t want to hold their sweaty hands.
Respecting my choice my mother chose to support me and told the teacher so. She saw it as a logical assessment. Since I gave a reasonable reply to a legitimate question, she didn’t see why I should be forced against my will. As she put it all these years later, I wouldn’t want to hold someone else’s sweaty hand either.
I like this story because it tells me something of my own integrity as a child, to have clearly stated wants and desires. But I’m not sure that she was right. Yes their hands may have been sweaty, but as an adult I realize that even a sweaty hand is better than no hand at all. In fact, sometimes it makes for a perfect fit.