Let the Children Hug!

The other day at the Elementary School during our regular chaotic morning drop off I had to scoot aside for a jumble of children climbing down from the school bus. The regular assortment of little people in their hats and snow pants clambered past me, except for one little boy. I knew this little guy, he’s played at my house many times. He smiled at me and turned his attention to the bus where he had just descended.
His older brother bounded down the steps behind him. I assumed that his ‘big kid brother’ would be like the dozens of other older boys who got off the bus. That he’d pass by his brother, maybe throw him a wave and go and join his friends. But that’s not what he did. Instead this kid who stands almost as tall as I do, came over to his little brother, wrapped him in a big bear hug and told him to have a great day. I grinned as I saw this big and little brother exchange – a giant hug in front of the entire school. I was impressed.
Next this little guy’s sister stepped from the bus, she’s the same age as my eldest and so I wondered what would happen as I watched the 10 year old and 6 year old interact. Instead of ignoring her little brother she also came over, wrapped him in a tight squeeze and told him that she loved him! Right there in the school yard. Then, this happy little man, filled with hugs, love and good wishes from his older two siblings ran off to join his friends in the kindergarten pen.
I looked at the teacher who was standing near by. She shrugged with a smile. “Ah” she said. “The sibling drop off.” This was normal! The teacher expected it, the six year old who waited for his siblings expected it. This wasn’t a once off, fluke that I witnessed, I saw three little siblings loving each other so much that they didn’t want to do their day without starting it with a hug!
Kudos to the family – your house must be a very loving place!
Recently good friends of ours switched their children from their public school to a local private school. The switch was for multiple reasons, but one of the reasons, she explained to me was because the elementary school didn’t allow her children to play together. She has three children, each a few grades apart. And, like this other family that I witnessed, they are close. They play together, hug, fight and make up, they have each other’s backs and they choose to spend their time with one another. But at her school, unlike at ours, where the teachers smile and permit siblings to interact before their school day, her school wouldn’t allow it. In fact, she was called in one day because her eldest daughter hugged her youngest son on the school ground when he was upset.
Heaven forbit a big sister comforts her little brother! The horror!
She was called in, her children were told that they needed to play with their ‘own friends’, the youngest child (age 5 at the time) didn’t need his siblings re-assurance. Not long after that they left the public school system. I don’t blame her.
I have come to realize that family is far more important than we give it credit for. Yes, having a plethora of friends around you is great fun. Yes, groups of acquaintances, a solid following on Facebook and people to spend your Saturday evenings with is wonderful, but nothing really replaces your family. When you are sick it isn’t going to be your Facebook friends who care for you, clean you up and buy your groceries. When you’re grumpy and cranky and not at your best, the people you played soccer with at recess aren’t going to be the ones who stick by you and love you through it all. When your life falls apart around you, when trouble strikes, when finances are hard or when you generally screw up in life, many of those friends, acquaintances, followers, they’re all going to readily back away. But family? Those siblings, parents, grandparents, even Aunts and Uncles, well, they’re stuck with you, and often the are the only ones who stick by you.
My children fight like maniacs with each other, unless someone else hurts them or puts them down, then they become an unstoppable, united force to be reckoned with.
Why anyone, any school system, any person at all would encourage siblings not to show their love to one another. Why anyone would see siblings comforting each other and call home and how anyone who could think that loving families aren’t incredibly beautiful and important is beyond me.
I would have loved to have siblings go to school with me. The little boy in our school yard waited excitedly for his brother and sister. My friend’s kids’ crumbled when it was forbidden. For goodness sake, let’s foster and encourage families loving each other! Let’s champion those families who hug and kiss and express their love. Let’s let kids play with their brothers and sisters if they want to! Let’s not push people to separate from their families to ‘get their own friends’. Yes, friends are important and wonderful. But strong families… we need as many of those as we can get!

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