The Evolution of Affection
First day of kindergarten, my son entered his classroom, and was greeted by a great big smile and a ginormous hug. In that moment, I knew he felt welcome. He looked back at me, entered the classroom, and began playing. Like most mothers, I fought back all my emotions, traveled back to my own school, and shed a couple of tears with some queens. They looked at me with very little sympathy, said my little king would be fine, and we got back to work. Hezekiah traveled through his elementary years, with his first days of school looking very similar; big smiling teachers, with great big hearts, that believed in him, and filled him up with tons of hugs and love. Due to the love and affection of these teachers, he was able to grow, flourish, and has developed into the young man he is today.
For the last two years, of elementary, I got the joy and honor to work in his school. The first days continued to be very similar to kindergarten, and then he entered fourth grade. Fourth-grade was a game changer, it was the first time he had a male teacher, and this my friend, was truly a life changing experience for a young boy, seeking to find where and how he fit in this world. The conversations, discussions, support, and love were shown differently, however were needed for where Hezekiah was in his life. Hezekiah’s teacher, provided support, empathy, understanding, and affection in a way that showed all the young boys and girls in that classroom; that it was alright to be sensitive, to ask for help, to be vulnerable, to take risk, to fail, to never give up, and to cry. As he moved into middle school, times changed, from the daily hugs and loves, to fist bumps and high fives. Teachers were seeing more students in shorter time frames, trying to make connections and build relationships, gathering data, and building innovative lessons, some became burnt out, frustrated with the students, and as an educator, Hezekiah may be seen, as a student, that has “less needs” then his peers.
However, as a mother, of boys who are navigating through the education system, I wonder, if the evolution of affection is heading in the right direction. See when these young kings are walking in a world that’s against them, this is when they truly need more affection. We must understand that some of our students may go a whole day without anyone telling them something affirming, a day without someone talking to them, seeing or hearing them, a day without quality time, or a hug, which says, “I care about you.” Interesting enough, the other day, Hezekiah explained to me, that he needed more “mommy time,” more hugs. He explained that he only gets about 14 hugs a week from me and his day equaling 28. Not only did this make my heart melt but, it also made me question, how, I might evolve to meet his needs.
Questioning myself as a mother, I thought about the last couple of weeks, and I noticed I’m squeezing my husband and young kings a little tighter, holding on a little longer, and not wanting them to leave my side. I also noticed that they were matching my tightness, hanging on a little longer, and enjoying our cuddles more often. This was sobering, the fact that they need my affection just as much as I needed theirs. Just because society has created the gender norms, that say, you must raise boys to be strong, that they can’t be emotional, that they are not “real men” if they show vulnerability through tears, that men should walk in the world with the void of weakness truly sounds like hogwash. So today, I challenge everyone to stop what your doing, and visualize one man that has impacted your life positively (come on stop right now and think about that one very special man). Does this man exude strength, does he provide for you, does he show you who he truly is, do you feel that you have a place in his heart, would he do anything for you at a drop of a dime, does he take responsibility for his action, does he help you become a better version of yourself? I want you to think about this, these men didn’t become this way on their own, they had guidance, love, affection, and another man that influenced their life (whether it was God the father, a grandfather, a father, brother, son, or friend). Therefore, I asked everyone to stop. So, lets change the broken rules we are accustomed to, lets squeeze these men a little tighter, let them be vulnerable with us, safe with us, ask them more questions, listen to them, hear them, and understand just like you and me, our men, need our affection. #supporttheevolutionofaffection