January 5, 2015 § Leave a comment

Believe it or not hugging is a “topic in my house.

Culturally we are Italian – I was brought up with Italian traditions and expectations. My kids are brought up the same way. Part of that tradition and expectation is hugging family. We are a super close family. My parents live with us and we all hug each other upon coming and going several times a day. With extended family at parties or on holidays it’s the norm to go around the room and greet everyone with a hug and peck on the cheek and the to do the same when you are leaving. It’s just what we do.

I myself am a “hugger”. I spent my life watching my mother as a nurse never hesitate to hug a patient or never hesitate to hug a friend – I am the same way. Hugging brings connection. I don’t hesitate to open my arms to a friend, co-worker or parent of a student who is going through an emotional time. To me it is the human thing to do.

Hugging and Williams Syndrome – well if you have Williams Syndrome hugging is probably part of your repertoire. And since having a child with Williams Syndrome I’ve become even more of a “hugger” than ever before. It affects all of us connected to Williams Syndrome people – when we go see doctors there is no handshaking there is hugging. When we go to a convention well that is the “Grand Hugging Jackpot”! It is beautiful.

Then there is reality for my daughter who does know quite clearly who and who not around her is a “hugger”. She has been brought up culturally to hug. She is genetically programmed to hug. She is a hugger from a nature and nurture perspective! She is not out of control with her hugging and doesn’t hug people she’s never met before. But if she knows you and hasn’t seen you in a while – she’s going to hug you – not doing so just doesn’t feel right to her.

Her school does not approve. I understand this to a degree. It is not abnormal for friends to hug each other after a long break away and for teen/tween girls to hug seems socially normal to me. Believe me I understand there is a point that you need to be wary about predators and hugging the wrong people and honestly I think she gets that. But it seems to me at school she is not allowed to hug anyone – without getting spoken to for it. She is dreading school today because she is excited to see her friends after a long break and give them a hug but is afraid of getting in trouble for it. She is a bit of a mayor in school – everyone knows her in all the grades. Her brother plays football and she is comfortable around all the kids who play are on the football team and who go out of their way to be kind to her and many even reach out for a hug first . They have known her for 7!years! She is a kid who in the words of a dear friend “gets a pass” socially. She is far enough off the grain that kids know she’s not typical but she’s so damn lovable she’s popular in her own way. As a mom I feel like the other students accept her the way she is.

I run the risk that in saying all of this that I am completely wrong. But I have not witnessed anything to show me I am yet. I have only experienced the opposite – compassion, protection and support from most of her school mates. I pray this always continues.

I pray today her day at school brings her the love and support of friends she so craves, warm smiles and a couple hugs that come without penance.

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