Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Power of Touch

According to the dictionary, to “hug” means to squeeze someone tightly in your arms. Also in the dictionary are synonyms for “hug” which include embrace, cuddle, squeeze, clasp, clutch, cradle, or to hold close in your arms. 

I was talking to my friend Fred again. He was telling me how he used to work at a school for boys and how he had to be trained in the correct way to restrain them. 

“Restrain them?” I asked. “Why do they have to be restrained?”

“Because they often act out,” he responded. Then he told me that there is a proper way to restrain a child that involves four people who gently, but firmly hold him down, one holding his right arm; another, his left; a third, his right leg; and the fourth, his left.

“But why would a child act out when he knows he'll be held down?" I asked.  

“I asked that same question," he said, "And I was told it happens when a child hasn’t been properly nurtured. He'll act out when he wants to be touched. Or when he wants to be held.”

“Oh my God,” I said feeling incredulous until later when I remembered some of my own feelings on days when, like those boys, I would give anything - anything - to feel someone’s touch - to feel safe, to feel loved, or just to feel “real.” But unlike those boys, I have not had to go through my entire life feeling that way.

So, maybe the next time you hug a child who needs reassurance or love or just to know that you are there for him, you’ll remember that it doesn’t matter if you embrace, cuddle, squeeze, clasp, clutch, or cradle that child. Maybe you’ll just hold that child close and not be surprised when he - or she - hugs you back.  

 My memoir, Dear Elvis, a story about grief and loss can be found at

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