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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Power Of Touch


I sort of always knew, at least intuitively, that touch is important.  In some ways, touch is as important in communication as words and gestures are.  At times, so much is conveyed with a touch that words become superfluous.

I remember back in undergrad in one of my psychology classes talking baby monkeys.  In one experiment, they were separated from their mothers and placed in cages with only a terrycloth puppet monkey to cling to.  Obviously cruel even though we did learn much from that study.  There were developmental setbacks in comparison to other baby monkeys who had a mother and siblings with which to grow. 

There was a study about an orphanage in a foreign country whose children were not thriving, even dying, because of a lack of contact with other human beings.  Finally a doctor instructed nurses and aides to hold the children for periods of time throughout the day and night.  Kids began to thrive.

The Power Of Touch.

My wife teaches middle school and she’ll come home and complain that “the kids just can’t keep their hands away from each other.  They’re always touching, grabbing, or poking someone!”

Little kids come by it naturally and honestly.  Visit a Kindergarten class at story time.  Kids sit so close to one another and to the teacher that they’re almost on top of one another.  Middle school kids can’t just hold hands or sling an arm around another’s shoulders innocently without provoking thoughts of sexual innuendo.  So, they poke.  They grab.  They touch.  Safer that way.  No one can ‘accuse’ them of inappropriate contact.  Of something sexual.

Sad.  Really sad.

It perpetuates what I call “Skin Hunger”.

We are made to touch, to hold, to caress.  There are those among us who don’t have this opportunity.  No one touches them.  No one holds them.  No one caresses them.

“Skin Hunger”.

My kids tell me from time to time to keep my hands to myself.  I’m a toucher.  A holder.  My kids will never wonder about that existential question: “Do I Exist?” because I touch them often.  I hug them and I kiss them for the heck of it.  Whether they need it or want it or not.  Maybe mostly because I need it.  But I also know it’s good for them, too.  And good for me. 

When they were babies, I’d hold them.  A lot.  With Hannah, I took the late, middle of the night feeding because it was just Hannah and me in the rocking chair.  With Emily, she’d seek me out, crawl up on my lap and fall asleep.  I was her teddy bear. 

I have to admit, I miss those times.  Miss them a lot.

I grew up in a family of touchers, huggers and kissers. It’s in my DNA.  It’s the way I’m wired.  I didn’t grow up in a cage with a terrycloth puppet to cling to.  I didn’t have to worry about growing up without anyone touching me, hugging me or kissing me.

The Power Of Touch.

Kids, big and small, young or old need to touch and be touched.  Obviously, there are appropriate ways and appropriate times.  I get that.  But it doesn’t lessen the need or the impact of what a simple touch can convey.  It communicates so much.  The love we have for one another.  The importance we place on one another.  So, I give you permission to give The Power Of Touch to others.  Tell them, “Lewis said so!”  They might not understand, but they’ll like it nonetheless.  And you will too.  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe