Reading one article on Mashable today set me thinking. It was about kids hugging adults, in this case, a great grandma. The author was ok with her kid not hugging the 90-year-old great grandma because “she looks like a witch”. Aren’t all grandmas and great grand moms an epitome of love and affection, and also delicacies-cooking experts?! But, this article left me pondering on relationships in general and future human relationships in particular.
In a world, where everyone is hugging everyone in public, and kissing as a gesture of warmth, it doesn’t make sense to me when I read something like this. When you can hug an acquaintance or a friend, why can’t you hug your relative? It is very wrong on the part of the parents to say that even a kid has to have a say in hugging someone. ‘Someone’ sure! But your kith and kin shouldn’t count into a ‘someone’ list.
Back in India too, until some years back, we didn’t have any hugging or ‘fake kissing’ in the southern part of the country. Touch was not a common thing in our community. Yes, grandparents were always exceptional. Grandkids would sit on their lap and listen to stories or talk to them about their school. But then, now a days, since the awareness of child abuse, that has stopped too, in most houses.
In Northern India, hugging is a very common thing, and everybody hugs everybody as a welcome gesture. It is possible that this culture came from the Muslim rulers in that part of the country. In Islam, hugging is a warm way of showing love. But, for me, a girl from south India, hugging and touching seems very artificial between friends and acquaintances.
But, I have never had a problem if I’m blood-related to that person. In fact, I loved to hug and plant a kiss on my grandma’s cheek even when I was a teenager. I loved her smell, and loved the love and affection I felt when I hugged her. Her soft but wrinkled skin was very dear to me, as I knew that this is what would happen when one ages. I should give the credit to my parents for inculcating this sense of ‘belonging’ that we have in our house. And hence, my brothers and I have always been able to connect to relatives and show our care and concern for them.
This care and concern is seen very rarely here in the US. I sometimes see the grandparents come to their grandkids’ music concerts in school, but it seems like an obligation to me. They come separately, sit together and watch and leave separately. They usually shake hands and rarely hug, and both the gestures seem artificial to me. Maybe, it’s just me, but I feel that there is not much bonding between them. I know it is a culture thing, but then, relationships should be natural not culture bound, right?!
Initially, I was scared when I came into this country, that my kids would lose their ‘Indianness’, but no. My kids mingle well with my parents and my husband’s parents, as I did in my childhood with my grandparents. They have a lot of love and affection toward them and show it physically too. Especially, in my house, when my mom hugs them affectionately and my dad pats them on the back, my kids respond very positively.
When I was a kid, we would go to my Grandparent’s house every summer as we lived in a different state, due to my dad’s job. In the summer, from a cool place, we would go to a hot and humid place, and stay for a month or two, just so we enjoyed the company of my grandparents. We never ever felt the pain as it was so much fun living with them and getting pampered and loved unconditionally.
Now, my kids are going through the same separation pangs as we did. My parents and my husband’s parents live in India, and my kids miss them a lot. Every time we go to India , the kids enjoy their grandparents’ company a lot. Occasionally when the grandparents come over to the USA to visit us for six months, my kids love to show them off to their friends. The love that the grandparents bestow on them is forever priceless.
I think it all boils down to the way the kids are brought up by their parents. Every day, I hug and kiss my kids goodnight, and I feel so nice about it. I feel that if we teach them and show them love, they in turn will do the same in their future. Be aloof or just do a thing for them as a duty, then that is what they would learn too. I would sure love to be hugged and loved by my future grandkids as my kids do to their grandparents and as I did to mine!