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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.
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.
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.
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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