Earlier today, Ana walked into the kitchen in floods of tears. "Sacha said we're not best friends any more!"
"Sweetheart, Sacha hasn't started talking yet. Are you sure he said that?" I asked.
She didn't see the funny side. I gave her a big hug and soon she was better.
I hug my children a lot. It's not a conscious thing I do, some sort of parenting strategy - I think I read about that somewhere, "12 hugs a day to thrive" or some similar wisdom (how did they know it's not 11? Or 23?). It just comes out of me, towards them, in every sort of situation. When they're happy or upset, if we're saying hello or goodbye, if I have just told them to stop being so naughty or that I'm madly proud of them - somehow, before you even know it, our bodies press, chest to chest, arms around each other, we inhale in perfect rhythm, exhale in subtle harmony, and that's it - another hug has just happened, for us. The chemistry leaves us feeling a little lightheaded, a little happier than we were before, some sort of smile lingering on our faces for the rest of the day. It can't be helped.
These hugs, they're serious business. I don't know why they're not on posters, all around town, instead of all those other things trying to sell you happiness. A perfume, a car, a new pair of shoes, a holiday for the discerning, a book for the knowledgeable, a face cream for the vain, something small if you're poor or something crazy if you're so rich (and silly) you'd buy anything as long as it's new - all these things promise happiness, and yet not a single hug advertised anywhere for the good of the soul.
But it works. It does. Just ask my kids.
Try it! It might work for you too.