Monday, June 01, 2009

Who knew? I'm hip.

I would have never guessed it but it turns out, I'm hip. At least as hip as today's teenagers.

Let me back up for a minute. I hug people. I hug people I know, I hug people I kind of know a little bit, I sometimes hug people I barely know. I'm not kidding. I even remind people about it even when we're not together. Ask anyone in my personal life who receives an email from me. My closing? Hugs.

I grew up with hugs and thank God for it. I can't imagine being hug-free but the boys have told me they have friends whose parents do not hug them. Is that the saddest thing ever? Yes, it is.

Sure, there are a few circumstances that warrant a handshake. I can handle that; I'm not completely off the rails about this. But in casual or in friendly business settings, I hug. No question, no hesitation.

I've always hugged my kids. Even now, when my three boys are 19, 18 and 18, I hug them daily. Several times a day, really. When we're home, when we're not home - doesn't matter. And they must have picked up at least some of their own hugging habits from me: One of my twins just won an award for giving the best hugs from the Performing Arts Club at school.

I hug my boys - and always will - and I hug their friends. Even not seeing their friends for a year at a time doesn't stop me. I run into them or they stop by the house and there I am: opening my arms to give hugs.

The thing is, they give them back. Which brings me to the topic at hand: teenagers and hugging. According to an article in The New York Times, teenagers from coast to coast are abandoning the high five for a hug. (The high five, the fist bump and other points of contact have evolved into a prelude to the hug. And there are several kinds, including the kind of hugs young men give each other.)

The article offered ideas about why today's teenagers have become so hug-friendly. Theory: This generation was raised with all kinds of parental involvement - remember the inexplicable and truly yuppie-authored activity called "playdates?" Please. As they grow up - free of parents hovering and planning and monitoring every move they make - they feel free to hug and be hugged. And good for them.

Theory: they are so heavily cyber-connected that they take any opportunity they can to reach out and hug someone. Maybe. I don't know. I suppose if the internet can claim credit for elevating the role of hugs for an entire generation, it can't truly be the end of western civilization as I usually contend.

The article also claims parents are "baffled" by this behavior. Baffled? About hugs? What's hard to understand? For God's sake, hugs are nice. They're friendly and warm and welcoming. They say so much with so little.

The only thing that baffles me about the article I read were the schools and administrators who "ban" hugging in their hallways. It's all in an effort to "maintain an atmosphere of academic seriousness and prevent unwanted touching, or even groping." Groping??? Is that a synonym for hugging?

For God's sake. This is why adults are ridiculous. We make (understandable) rules about violence in our schools and we make rules about expressing friendship with non-romantic hugs in our hallways. That's super.

No wonder kids think we're clueless.

No comments: