Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Holding Children

She was a greying yellow lab, someone that someone loved, and loved a lot. Dogs aren’t usually allowed in stores, but they had made a bed for her, given her some toys, and there she lay behind the counter, happily waiting for her family member to get off work and they would return home. 
“Umutibeast” I whisper to her, and she looks up at me, and her tail thumps. She picks up a stuffed animal and walks over to where I’m kneeling and offers it to me.
“Here, it’s something I like to chew on, and I bring this to you, and you can pet me on a dog’s head, if you really want to.” I pet the aging yellow on a greying muzzle and her family member admonishes her not to put a wet paw on me, but she ignores the warning. She kisses me, and I pet her, and we bond, hard and true, from this point on, and ten seconds ago we were total strangers. Her family member and a friend of mine do business while I look into an old dog’s eyes and see heaven. 
It’s no secret at all I prefer the company of canines to the company of humans, and I have been this way since I was a child. Yet when I was a child the world was a much different place than it is today, and even the differences in one generation to the next are a fairly large. My older sister and I were raised by the same parents, at least until we were nearly teenagers, yet the way she raised her two kids could not have been more different than how we were raised. Children were just a step above good hunting dogs when I was a child, and any adult, and every adult, could, and would, have some say as to what a child could or could not do. My parent’s friends were treated as auxiliary parents and they acted that way, some of them to the point of the extreme. One of my father’s friends was downright abusive but that sort of thing was viewed as humorous back then. My sister would decapitate anyone who treated her kids like that. Seriously. 
Yet for all the weirdness that came from having friends of the family acting as parents there was also a lot more physical contact, more horseplay, than I see with kids these days. Men wrestled with boys, and played rough with them, and it was a nearly a given that someone who came over would play with the kids at some point. Of course it all began and ended when they said so, and we were expected to either play or behave on demand, but it was still a lot of fun, sometimes. I remember two of my father’s friend tossing me into the air between the one day and it was glorious. 
This is all very odd coming from me because I’m not the most touchy- feely person you’ll ever meet. I don’t like for rattlesnakes or human beings to get within striking distance of me, and truth be told, I trust the snakes more than I do the people. Yet I cannot help but believe it’s not a good thing for people in general to be afraid to touch children, even though in this day and age, I can see why they would have that fear. For someone to hurt their child has to be every parent’s worst nightmare. For someone to abuse their child sexually would be even more devastating. But we seem to have lost the ability to have physical contact with kids in a fun way, the way we still can do with puppies and dogs, and this cannot be good. 
Sam has to be held at least once a day or he gets weird. He has to sit partially in my lap, and I have to put my arms around him and hold him until he is mostly mush. He relaxes into it so far as to fall asleep sometimes and nearly fall. The contact between Sam and myself comforts him in a way nothing else can, and we have lost the ability and the desire to hold kids like this, I fear. I don’t see it being done as it was done when I was growing up. There was a time nearly everyone, male or female, would hold kids at some point in time, and kids themselves would sleep in piles, like puppies. Body heat was meant to be shared among the young, and it was never thought of as odd or strange. 
As I said, this is odd coming from me because as a general rule I do not like children. They are just shorter humans, and I find it difficult to relate to them in any sense. But this isn’t about how I am because one person being like this doesn’t really cost us that much. Qhwn everyone is like this however, I fear the children will grow up not needing to be held, and not needing to feel the warmth of other people, and they will become emotionally autistic in a way that is cultural and preventable. I fear we rely on far too many devices to hold kids in place, be in a chair with straps or a DVD player. We will stop and coo over a strange dog and perhaps pick the animal up if its small enough, but we’re developing an reluctance to hold children, and we’re afraid to let others do so. Others see this fear, and it is reasonable to protect children but at the same time, to isolate them from the experience is to teach them coldness. 
I was born the way that I am. I have never yearned for human contact the way others have, and I do not like children as a general rule. But I would rather suffer a society that allowed children to be children, and allowed the rest of the people who wish to do so to hold them, rather than see more people like me. 

Take Care,
Mike

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