At the bus stop with a group of parents waiting for the big yellow bus to return, the topic of a classmate comes up. One of the parents learns of the puppy-love friendship between Girl from the East and the son of his best friend. We talk briefly about the boy, how he’s sweet and quirky. A future Conan O’Brien type, we say.
The bus squeals to a stop. The doors hiss open. Girl jumps out and races toward us.
Other parent, to Girl from the East: So, I hear you are friends with Little Conan.
Girl: Yeah, he’s really funny.
Other: Oh, he’s funny all right. That kid cracks me up.
Girl (through explosive giggles): I know. He always wants to touch and hug.
The other parent and I trade mouth agape, wide-eyed looks, turn to Girl and ask again: WHAT?
Girl: He’s always wanting to touch and hug.
That kind of funny.
Here we go.
Time for the first of many, many, many talks.
I laughed when that happened, but inside I knew that it is time to sit her down and have a talk about the right and wrong types of touching and hugging. It’s never too early. I need to show her that I am comfortable talking about these things. The hope is that she’ll feel comfortable enough to come to me with questions and concerns in this area. Make it clear to your kids and make a promise that you will keep that if they ever come to you with a report of something happening in the wrong touching/hugging category that you will act on it. You will not dismiss it in any way or call it a misunderstanding, an exaggeration, or an illusion. Good people will understand a parent’s concern. Better a few moments of embarassment than a lifetime of pain. We all know when something goes over the line. Kids know. We know.