“Love makes the world go ‘round” according to a song that was popular when I was a lot younger. Then during the first quarter of my fifty-four year marriage, I learned that “Love means never having to say ‘I’m sorry.’” While both of these memorable sayings have stuck in my mind over the years, I have found them both to be myths. Love is a very complicated emotion which can have various and often unpredictable outcomes in life. It has often been pointed out that we have one word for love in the English language, which we freely use to describe our feelings about anything from our food and drinks to the emotional ties between people to our favorite pastimes. Yet, other languages may have three or more different words for love, depending upon the situation. So, we have been guilty of making it a very generic term while others have created distinctive terms to describe the emotions accurately.
Much of what is done in life is blamed upon “love” as in, “I did it for you…because I love you.” However, children I’ve taught over the years often saw many “acts of love” as guilt-driven remorse by their parents. Some parents have been so overloaded with work duties and responsibilities that they try to make it up to their children by giving said children their hearts’ desires. But is that love? Let me give one classic example that happened long ago in our school.
One of our students carried a one-foot square piece of rabbit skin fur with her every day to school. She never laid it down, but always carried it and rubbed it on her cheek throughout the day. I tried, to no avail, to get her to leave it behind or put it in a safe place during school. I even tried to appeal to some shame since she was about fourth grade level. She would have nothing to do with the suggestions. Soon, I began to notice more and more students showing up with similar pieces of fur, which they proceeded to hold and rub against their faces.
Finally, one of my staff members told me she heard a clerk at a local store tell a customer, “I don’t know what they use it for, but it is quite the item…we can’t keep them in stock!” That was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. I confronted the students with my questions. All of them said they bought them because so-and-so had one. Then, they liked the way it felt. At last, I asked the girl who started the fad. “Sometimes, I just wish my parents would hug me.” Then I knew it was a substitute for missing affectionate hugs from some very busy parents. After that admission, my staff and I gave out hugs freely. The rabbit furs all disappeared.
I haven’t thought about this incident since it happened. Today, our students give and receive hugs all the time. Parents who come into the school are also often met with three and four-year-olds who hug their legs and giggle with recognition. (Yes, we watch and are very careful at all times.) We have not taken the attitude of many schools which have a “no touch” policy in place. We have a very family-like feeling in our school which warms the hearts of all… everyday… not just on a day like last week’s Valentine’s Day. Hmm…when these students say, “I just love this school!” I wonder if I should be dissecting that word for its actual meaning; or, should I just accept it and have a good day as I revel in it?!