When I was in college navigating parenthood and coursework, I worked at the children’s center on campus. I’m a believer that everything happens for a reason. Including me being placed in a classroom with children exactly the same age as my own child — children who eventually became her very best friends. I learned so many things that I often utilized at home with my own baby — new songs, recipes, books, baby signs and the phrase “gentle touches”.
Gentle touches was what we said to little ones when they would hit, make a new furry friend or they were being too rough with someone.
Years later I found myself uttering these same words to my littlest in the same sing song voice I used with her sister. “Gentle touches Lola.” “Show her gentle touches.” We’ve been doing this for months and I wholeheartedly believe in the magic of these words. When playing with her puppy we remind her to be gentle, when playing with us we sometimes have to remind her too.
I realize that some of us are less gentle by nature. Some of us delight in grizzly bear sized hugs, while others relish in the sweetness of an Eskimo kiss. Some of us have little ones who muster up all their might to give us a high five while others use a lot less vigor.
My hope nonetheless, is that we will build upon this early lesson on the importance of being gentler. A lesson that has started with us showing her a gentle touch and guiding her hands while encouraging her to do the same.
Nowadays her display of gentleness involves softly rubbing our cheeks after only seconds before, excitedly grabbing or hitting out of frustration. I watch her as she carefully observes the transition our faces make — into a smile as she uses her hands to be kind. She will often follow suit and smile as well. Kindness feels quite nice, I know.
I’m glad we are teaching her this now. First she will learn to be gentle with her hands but my wish is that words too will follow. Because our words also have the ability to touch others. I hope that she will know that while our hands and words can be used to hurt they are better used for loving, uplifting and the giving of bear hugs and blowing of kisses.
Yes, we people are strong and resilient but we are also human and vulnerable. And maybe, just maybe she will come to realize that at the heart of this lesson on gentle touches was my desire to teach her the value of the human heart. That there will be times when we will have to be firm but most often what is needed is for us to be gentle and kind. To handle people with care and compassion. To handle their hearts and her heart with care.