The healthy living course I have been doing over the past four weeks has been very beneficial. Though at times I have sat there and thought 'but I already do this' or 'I already have that thought pattern', I guess that has served to remind me of the joys in my life and that I'm not such a bad egg after all. The greatest lesson I am taking away is about being in the moment. Forget the regrets of the past, restrain from projecting on the future, just 'be' now.
I read an article the other day from a mother who wanted to teach her child with DS boundaries because she was worried about inappropriate hugging when he gets older. I guess I am coming from a completely different parenting perspective because I encourage all my girls to hug. From a professional standpoint, I have worked with an adolescent boy who hugged as a greeting. He learnt quickly which teachers and students would reciprocate and who wouldn't. I didn't have a problem with him saying hello with and hug.... and I still don't! I'm not his teacher anymore, but seeing him can easily be the highlight of my day as he hugs hello and proceeds to tell me all about his latest cooking adventure.
Here is why I don't have a problem with it. As an adult I can find social situations, particularly greetings, very difficult. Do you handshake? Do I need to hug? I have one friend of my husband who I know is a cheek kisser. In the past I would never initiate the cheek kiss. I guess I simply didn't know how to. Too many awkward cheek kiss misses. Ughhhh. Awkward greetings, I'm not a fan and they can make me feel ill at ease. They leave the whole social encounter feeling awful. So, back to this cheek kissing friend. I now know that is his greeting style, so I steel myself and preparing mentally. I lean in, offer my cheek, kiss the air near his cheek and.... we're done! Phew! But he's getting married to a friend of mine.... what will be the protocol on their wedding day? Hug? Cheek kiss? In short, the problem is mine, not his.
Now, someone please tell me why my daughter hugging people is wrong, and why she needs to learn 'boundaries' when this man who wantonly kisses the cheek of all he passes is deemed socially acceptable? In reality, we could all use more hugs, couldn't we? Shouldn't we the receivers change our perceived boundaries?
So, back to being in the moment.
I think that worrying about whether or not my 8 year old's hugging will or will not be the cause of boundaries to be crossed in the future is wasted energy. I think that the mother in the above article who saw the actions of another child and projected them onto her own son is missing the 'now'. Surely if my parenting now is the best it can be, my daughter, DS or not, will be the best she can be, now and in the future. If I can teach her to find self affirmation, then she won't need to seek it from others. Isn't that a better plan than teaching her not to hug people she meets?
A very dear friend of mine has a blog far superior to my own (plus her photography page). She started her journey of motherhood a couple of years before me and she has taught me more than she could realise. Just today she posted about the fear she goes to bed with every night because of her daughter's T1 diabetes. It really put any worries I currently have for my daughter into perspective and maybe the mother in the above article needs a little of that perspective too. I am grateful for the ease and joy which has descended onto our little family this year.
Worrying about what may or may not be in the future needs to be proportionate to the significance of the thing you are worrying about AND your ability to influence it. My friend has every reason to worry each night. Worrying about how a hug may or may not be reciprocated by someone 10 years from now...