I'm always telling (alright, we all know I'm yelling at) my kids to "keep your hands to yourselves!"
With three children
-- ages eight, five and three --
you can imagine the amount of attention-seeking, bickering that occurs in my house on the daily, and, occasionally, those verbal quarrels turn, slightly embarrassingly, but age-appropriately, physical.
They'll hit each other.
They'll pinch one another.
They'll give an "oh-I-didn't-see-you-there" biscuit bump.
And, of course, all of this leads to
And conversations, of course, about what good behavior looks like and proper and effective ways to express our feelings.
I nag them with "use your words," and I beg of them to stop using their hands.
BUT, what if I am missing a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to teaching my kids about human interaction?
For example, like how there are times when they shouldn't keep their hands to themselves, and instead, they should absolutely reach out in the direction of others, extending that five-finger life raft to someone or someones very much (obviously or not) in need of it.
Sure, if they are upset or frustrated or responding to someone's actions or words and they are coming from a place of anger, they need to glue those hands of theirs behind their back and leave them there.
BUT, more often than not, I want for them to keep their eyes on the people around them, and offer up their palms as a tangible extension of the compassion that resides -- occasionally laying dormant -- inside of them.
So here's what I'll tell them.
To hold the hand of anyone who feels alone or looks like they need support.
To grab the hand of those who feel too weak to stand on their own two feet, pull them out of their funk, and guide them back to their strength.
To offer a handshake as a sign of respect at every opportunity.
And, to high-five anyone who puts their palm out in expectation of one.
When they ask why -- because you know they will -- do you know what I will tell them?
That, without a doubt, one day they will need a hand, and that as their mother, I pray to God that another mother somewhere taught her child the same thing.
For if there ever comes a day, when I can't be their life raft, another one of this world's special beings sure can and, if raised right, will.