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As the clock strikes 3 pm, as part of my daily ritual, I put my phone away, shut my laptop and head to the most important place in the house. Streaming directly into my living room, the afternoon sun scorches my verandah. I cannot stand there unless I shield my eyes or wear my shades for protection.

But every weekday, between 3.10 and 3.30 pm, I am there. That’s the window within which Gy returns from school. Her bus trundles up the slope just beyond the block we live in and from my vantage point, I watch as it rumbles and grunts its way to the bus stop at the next building.

My eyes scan the tiny troop of uniform-clad children that hop off the bus, bags swinging from their shoulders, water bottles dangling from their necks, heads bent in serious gossip- clearly, words of import that they haven’t finished exchanging. Then, I see her.

Her black mop of hair comes into view as do her square shoulders, indicating the freedom that comes with childhood. Somewhere around this age, I’d lost touch with innocence and my heart twists at the memory. Looking up, she catches sight of me and grins, waving wildly. The wave turns into an open-palmed gesture, signalling that I can go back inside and await her arrival at the front door. Grateful to be out of the sun god’s glare, I comply.

A few minutes later, the elevator doors slide open and she walks in the front door, straight into my waiting arms; Arms which I keep free of distractions so that I can soak in the magic of this moment every afternoon.

And my heart melts, the way it does every single time she comes in for that connection that binds us.

This, quite simply, is the one #gift that keeps giving. Click to Tweet

A hug, like a smile, is contagious. When given willingly and with love, it enriches both the giver and the recipient.

Gy has always been a hugger. Ever since she was a baby, she’d come in for the squishiest of hugs and nuzzle my cheek. She’d then plaster my face with kisses and leave a trail of slobber all over me.  Every time I’d reprimand her when she did something wrong, she’d have a crestfallen expression but follow it up almost immediately with the request for a hug.

And I would comply (well, almost always.) Sometimes I’d be too angry to hug her. It’s always been a bit of a struggle on that count. The one reason I don’t hug when I am angry is because I don’t want the hug to be meaningless.

A gift that keeps giving. Your child needs this one simple thing from you every day and the best part? It doesn't cost a cent. #Parenting can be tough but moments like these in the day will make it all worthwhile.

As she grows older, Gy is changing. Her likes and dislikes are far more pronounced these days. She has a firm way of asserting that she does not want to do something. She can fly into a rage at the slightest provocation. It’s probably the tween angst at work. It’s normal, this transition and I learn something every time I watch her do it all.

But one thing hasn’t changed. She still needs her hugs. Plenty of them.

Do you know when she needs them?

When I wake her up in the morning

When she leaves home and gets on to the school bus every morning

When she heads out the door to pick up groceries from the supermarket

When she is rushing out to play and her friends are waiting

When she readies her bicycle to take it for a spin around the block

When she leaves for her tennis class

When I leave home for a meeting

When I go for a walk and she decides to stay home and read instead

When I tuck her in at night

And these aren’t quick ‘courtesy’ hugs, oh no. They are the kind where she brings herself into the act, by letting her body mould itself into mine. It’s the type of hug that allows you to breathe in the coconut oil that she wears on her hair. It’s the hug that says, without words, that you mean everything in the world to this amazing, tiny human being.

And I find every worry vanish in the comfort that comes gushing forth from the simple act of hugging. It’s her way of letting me understand that even if everything else fails, there is one thing I can always count on:

The magical power of a child’s hug.


*Images courtesy: Gift via Shutterstock & heart by shutterstock

Thursdays always make me reflective. I used to run a series on this blog called ‘Thoughtful Thursdays’ which covered moments and tips for positive parenting and simple life lessons I’ve learnt from my child. Time to bring it back, you think? 

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Suchitra · October 21, 2016 at 4:13 am

Hugs are precious! My little boy loves hugs too. Isn’t it magical, how our kid can melt into our arms and how our arms just perfectly fit into each other’s spaces. I love it! I am so happy that even though you may be able to pick Gy up anymore, your can still share all those hugs.

    Shailaja · October 21, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I’ve always wondered about it. How wonderful is the human firm that it allows us to express so many glorious things with one another. I know I miss picking her up but my arms will anyway be able to hug her. Thanks Suchi

Aparna George · October 21, 2016 at 6:13 am

So true that nothing quite matches a hug from your child Shailaja, love the way you pull the reader along on your journey of emotions <3.
I always tell S that I would be very sad when he starts feeling like he's too old for hugs. He's promised me that he will never say it even when he's "as old as Amma". 🙂
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    Shailaja · October 21, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Thank you Aparna. It’s these moments that I keep savouring over and over again.

Nabanita Dhar · October 21, 2016 at 9:56 am

This is so beautiful, Shailaja. M hugs me, even now when she probably doesn’t understand it. I love it. At the end of the day when we go home, she close to my chest tucked safely in her carrier, I can’t stop kissing her. I pull her closer and hug her tightly and she complies. Sometimes with her giggles and sometimes with sounds, she’s learnt . And for a moment , all my worries disappear. You know, you are right, hug is a gift that keeps giving 🙂
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    Shailaja · October 23, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    I think she does understand it 🙂 It’s the primal thing that connects human beings- touch. Kids are amazing in the way they can dispel our worries, aren’t they?

Obsessivemom · October 21, 2016 at 10:35 am

You’re right. A hug from your child is the warmest, loveliest feeling ever. As they’re growing up and I feel an end to the ritual might be in sight I find them even more precious. It’s the boys that are worse. When H, who is almost as tall as I am, gives me one of those squeeze-my-breath-out ones, it’s very reassuring and I hope it will only be a temporary suspension till they outgrow their teens. Lovely post Shailaja.
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    Shailaja · October 23, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    You are so blessed, Tulika. I love it when kids are expressive and H’s hugs sound so delightful. Savour them now. I hope they sustain for a long, long time to come 🙂

Kala Ravi · October 21, 2016 at 10:38 am

What an endearing post Shailaja! Gy is totally adorable! You are blessed to have such a loving baby! Mine are a lot less demonstrative, probably because I am too. But I agree, a hug or a jaadu ki jhappi says it like nothing else!! Stay blessed mum n babe!
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    Shailaja · October 23, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    Thank you, Kala. Gy is very demonstrative and that’s one thing she almost demands from both parents when we are at home and we are more than happy to comply 🙂

Soumya · October 21, 2016 at 12:24 pm

You know I had such a big smile on my face as I read this. Hugs are indeed magical. For now it comes to me from my first born, my husband 😀

All the scenarios you mentioned above, it applies to us as well. It is not an act of PDA or anything sexual, but just a way of showing love and it says “I’m there for you” in more ways than one.

Loved reading this. <3
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    Shailaja · October 23, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    Yes I know what you mean. It’s two souls connecting at a level that really cannot be explained in words. Thank you, Soumya 🙂

Rachna · October 21, 2016 at 12:38 pm

So beautiful. Children and their love. My teen is a tall, lanky young man but he still comes to give me those bear hugs. And G, who is 10 and we try to hold on to his innocence hugs and kisses us fervently. He will hug both of us before going to bed and before he leaves for school, he hugs and kisses me. It is just so beautiful. As kids we never did that to our parents. I am glad that my kids are openly expressive. And yes, when they come home, how chatty are they, rambling on and on. So precious.

    Shailaja · October 23, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    We’ve always been an expressive family growing up, so for me it came very naturally. It took a bit of time for V to warm up to it but once Gy arrived, he transformed completely. I guess kids do that to you. How sweet that both G and S are just attached kids. I am so glad to hear that.

Subha Rajagopal · October 21, 2016 at 6:35 pm

Made me smile with warmth.A hug is symbolic of all the love and affection the heart holds.
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    Shailaja · October 23, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    Thank you, Subha 🙂 I was so touched to see you at the event yesterday. Thank you for being there!

Vinitha · October 22, 2016 at 12:44 am

Kanna is the same way! I didn’t hug anyone like I hug him until he came into my life. Hugs are precious, totally agree with you Shailaja. 🙂

    Shailaja · October 23, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    Thank you, Vinitha. Such wonder and joy in such a simple gesture.

Mithila Menezes @fabulus1710 · October 22, 2016 at 8:09 pm

“can fly into a rage at the slightest provocation”
I can assure you that this rage is as short lived as a soap bubble. And then, warm hugs can help solve so many problems!

This post is so beautiful! I’m more of a handshake person myself, but reading this is actually making me want to hug someone asap! 😀
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    Shailaja · October 23, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    I know what you mean. She forgets as soon as she gets angry. Me, ah well. I am still learning. Go go hug someone 😀

Anamika Agnihotri · October 28, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Reading this post was lovely and full of warmth. Hugs are the way of life in my home too. We have classified them into 2 types – Happy Happy hug when both of us are already in a sunny mood and a hug makes us more happier; the other one is Sad Happy hug when one of us is feeling low and a hearty hug lights up the spirit. To begin with I called them ‘Jaadu ki khappi’. Loved reading this post and hugs to Gy.

    Shailaja · November 6, 2016 at 7:58 am

    Thank you, Anamika. I love hugs. They seem to make everything better, don’t they? 🙂

Modern Gypsy · November 3, 2016 at 12:10 pm

This is such a beautifully written post. You brought me into your world with your daughter and reminded me of my mother. I almost had tears in my eyes reading this, remembering my childhood and all the hugs and cuddles with my mom.
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    Shailaja · November 3, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Thank you, MG 🙂 I’m glad it touched a chord with you.

arv · November 11, 2017 at 2:35 pm

There are many write ups that claim that hugs have healing powers. Some cultures have hugging as common form of greeting people.

Anindya Rakshit · November 11, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Wonderful write up on the greatest gift…..yes, hugs are always the best way to make the connect….more meaningfully….
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Kelsey · November 11, 2017 at 4:39 pm

Your writing, your thoughts, hugs; it’s all so beautiful! ❤

Becoming a patient parent: A long but rewarding path to walk · January 19, 2018 at 11:29 am

[…] a smile broke through the tears and she came in for that soothing hug that washed all worries […]

4 Family Rituals that have helped me connect with my child · November 28, 2018 at 11:51 am

[…] I call it the Gift that keeps giving. […]

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