It was unusual for me to sit and watch a basketball game on television – especially one where I had no vested interest in any player or team. (weirder still, I suppose, that I’m blogging about it now!) But last night, after a very exciting, wonderfully fun Family Resources’ Bunny Hop in the afternoon, a long walk in the marsh with the new puppy and my husband, early dinner out, then puppy wild playtime after, by 8:00 p.m., I was so ready to sit, without moving, on the couch, watching whatever it was that appeared on the screen in front of me.
That happened to be the College Semifinals – West Virginia vs. Duke. I was rooting for West Virginia as they appeared to be the underdog and the more unexpected team to compete for the chance to be the national college champions. I watched their coach who never sat down, pacing back and forth, appearing to be yelling a lot. I had the impression that he was a very tough guy – maybe too tough, I prematurely thought.
In the second half of the game, West Virginia’s star player got seriously hurt and lay writhing in pain on the court. This same coach came out to this young player, kneeled down on the floor, took his head in his hands, cradled him, leaning in very, very close and soothed him and comforted him in the most touching, tender manner imaginable for several minutes until the player was taken off the court. It was a moment that brought tears to my eyes.
The game continued, of course, but the West Virginia players’ spirit appeared deflated. They lost the game, along with their chance to play in the national college final championship game next week.
As each West Virginia player came off the court, however, this big burley coach looked them in the eye and hugged them with such total, genuine caring and sincerity. There was no quick dismissal, no slap on the rear or off-hand pat on the shoulder. These players knew and definitely felt the pride, affection and appreciation that this coach felt for each of them.
I was so moved by observing this public show of emotion, I immediated started to think about the significance of affection, of touch, of hugging. So often with our children, we forget, especially when we’re stressed, when our children move out of the toddler/preschool stage, when there are other children younger in the home, when they become teenagers.
In a way, we begin to take our children for granted.
It’s not intentional, we just get busy and they seem so competent now and less demanding of our time and attention, so we overlook our chance to hug, to touch, to look at them with eyes of genuine caring, acceptance and love.
More often that not, this seems to happen, especially with boys. We perhaps expect them to need less from us emotionally and society expects them to be tougher. But take another look. Boys are sensitive and emotionally complex and they need our loving touch, even if they appear to be sending us another message.
A parent of a teenage boy was just telling me that his son will walk by his mom and kind of bump into her – purposely. It’s his way of initiating contact and connection and her opportunity to grab him and give him a hug, even if he attempts to squirm away.
Watching that kind coach reach out to his players resonated so much with me, I felt compelled to share it with you, to remind and encourage us all that a hug given is a hug gotten back in return. I believe that bumper sticker is worth taking to heart.
Have you hugged your kid today?