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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.

Comments

Carri Pence's picture

I love how you captured both

I love how you captured both the innocence and bluntness of a child. Not meaning to hurt anyones feelings you didn't want to hold the children's hands for a true reason, though not compassionate it is raw. I miss the days where I was completely true to myself as you were as a child. We lose ourselves, trying to fit in society where as for children they are truly unique. I remember dancing down the streets as a child singing to myself completely out of tune. Now, as an adult I find myself keeping quiet on the blocks hiding my inner self who wants and needs to be released for fear of judgement.

Frances Faulkner's picture

evolution

Dear Jody,

This story has so much truth about maturity and coming to a place where our thoughts on something can flip to the opposite side as we get older and learn not to take anything for granted, especially the value of human connection. I see your mother did the right thing, honoring your thoughts about hand holding when you were young, letting you come to your own conclusions at your own pace and not feeling forced one way or another. In the end, the holding hand connection is meaningful for you because you are choosing it.

Kudos to both you and your mother for living a thoughtful life.

Frances

Jody,

I love this story... in fact, I am now feeling chills and stopping to think about my own experiences, relationships and interactions with people in my life.

I'm sorry to hear that you and your mother are distanced by land and by an inability to communicate and maintain a relationship that adds value to your life. I am going through a similar experience with my grandmother and it's painful... but it's more painful to make the relationship work and in this moment, have learned to let go for now and be at peace with our silence.

Thank you Jody for sharing this beautifully written story that stirred so many emotions in me.

In friendship,
Jade

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