John is a hand holder. He holds my hand everywhere we go, even just walking from his room to the kitchen. He holds a teacher’s hand walking one room down the hall. He held a friend’s hand all the way home from school yesterday, and it was a pretty warm day. When it’s cold out, he holds mittens. If we don’t have mittens, he’ll hold hands from inside a long sleeve. If there are no hands free, he’ll sort of latch onto a pocket. Other parents worry about their kids running off in airports or down sidewalks. I don’t have to worry (knock wood) because John is almost constantly attached in some way.
Grownups love his hand holding, because (obviously) it’s sweet as pie. With kids, it’s a mixed bag. Some kids are happy to hold John’s hand right back, and he’ll end up in a little chain, sometimes with a bit of shuffling about who will hold hands with who. Others (especially boys) are already aware enough to not want to hold hands, which just kills me a little bit because I can see John reach out and not find anything. I want to run up and grab that reaching hand.
I think it’s interesting that John seems to feel better when he’s physically connected to the person he’s walking with. He also prefers to be in some kind of contact when he’s reading books or watching a movie. He doesn’t sit two feet over on the couch, he sits close enough to overlap by an inch or two.
I wonder how much of this is just a natural instinct to make a physical connection. Obviously it’s not a social norm to walk around attached to a companion, except when you’re in the wooing stages of a new love. Or when you’re an old, old person who is doing it partly based on affection and partly based on a fear of falling. But maybe we all had that instinct to hold on when we were just starting out, and became more self-conscious about it as we grow up.
Anyway, John hasn’t learned to be self-conscious about it yet, and I love it. It’s very comforting and comfortable. If you see us walking around town holding hands, please, nobody tell him that he needs to let go.