Z muses. One of these days, Z might amuse, but baby steps…..

In the last two or three years, there has been a movement to take small children and babies into care homes, so that the old people can have the pleasure of interacting with tiny tots and the children enjoy the experience too. They’re too young to mind if the elderly people have hairy chins or say the same thing a few times and everyone enjoys the visit, including the parents who realise how much love there is between the generations. A few young friends of mine have taken their babies along and enthused about it.

I used to take Meals on Wheels to a nice old man who lived in the village. After his wife died, he’d had a long relationship with another woman, a widow, who kept her own home but spent a lot of time at his. This is not at all unusual now, at whatever age, but was then. But then she died and he was quite lonely, not for company but for touch. I got that, I knew that when he wanted a big, enveloping hug, he wasn’t behaving inappropriately but showing a need – in fact, once, I remember him muttering “oh, that’s what I need, that’s what I need.”

We used to be quite reticent in this country and it’s one of the big changes in society, that we all hug and kiss each other nowadays – just socially, as they do in some Continental societies. I say “all” but that’s not really the case. Some people are quite uncomfortable with it and feel that kissing should be reserved for spouses and children, but even those less tactile ones go along with it if they have to. I generally go by instinct, whether someone will welcome a hug or not – body language, I suppose.

There is, of course, the social hug/kiss and the warm one and the loving one and probably a few more nuances – like the intergenerational one I started with. I remember once impulsively kissing the cheek of an old lady I didn’t know all that well but was fond of, and she just blossomed. She was surprised and so pleased.

I’m not going anywhere with this really except to say, touch matters and hugs matter. If one is really non-tactile then that may not be possible, but there are a lot of people who simply crave a moment of warmth with someone friendly. Even when Eloise cat cuddles up to me, I feel soothed and cheered. I never mind her waking me in the night, because we both feel happier for the contact.

4 comments on “Z muses. One of these days, Z might amuse, but baby steps…..

  1. Blue Witch

    Oh gawd… I’ve now got to start campaigning for child and baby free care homes as well as planes then.

    Talking to a practice nurse friend the other day, she said that all the kissing of everyone that goes on now is why there are so many cold/flu/cough bugs circulating around.

    1. Z Post author

      Well, there was a picture on a local Facebook page of a local home where babies had been taken by their mothers and the joy on the faces of the old ladies might change your mind. It’s an hour or so, once a week, and it’s in a specific room that no one has to go in if they don’t want to. My friend Hannah took her baby and, her own beloved grandmother having died when she was pregnant, it meant a lot to her too. I remember Miss Fitt, who was 101 when Ronan was born, holding him under supervision and she was so happy. If one person disliked babies, I can’t see why those who love to be with them should be denied the rare opportunity.

      As for kissing, I’ve no idea if Continental countries historically had more colds. They social-kissed for a long time before we did. I’ve read that a lack of hand washing is one of the biggest problems, and that a reliance on anti-bacterial gel is unwise, especially as it’s no protection against norovirus. But I don’t know. I tend to take the lead of the person I’m greeting, anyway and take my chance if they’re a kisser. I’m more of a hugger, given the option.

  2. allotmentqueen

    The really, really sad thing is that these days in a school/college/university type context you cannot have any physical contact because it would be regarded as “inappropriate”. To see a 5 year old be really upset and not be able to give them a cuddle is hard.

    1. Z Post author

      Having spent a lot of time in schools myself over thirty years, I know what you mean – I went on a number of safeguarding courses too. They say that appropriate comfort is fine but one has to be aware of what could be said about oneself, even if it’s not true. And, of course, awful abuse stories keep surfacing, that had been hushed up in schools over years. Very difficult. In nurseries, one has to be able to comfort and cuddle children, as well as change nappies etc.


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