As a child I had plenty of pinch-worthy cheeks that got man-handled everywhere I went.
It was torture. My third grade teacher (who today would sadly, probably be arrested for abuse) would pinch sooo hard at the end of the day that I’d get on the bus all rosy cheeked and sore. I knew it came from a place of love but man it hurt. After shul, all the old men would say things like “zeeskeit” while getting in a good grab before they devoured the stinky herring and shnapps. The worst was when they came back for seconds while some slimy onion may have still been dangling form their mouths! My relatives would find me in a crowd and I’d see those fingers forming in 3-D. Ugh.
The thing I don’t understand is what happened to respecting someone’s personal space? NOT everyone loves to be touched. I have personally witnessed at least 3 different occasions and reasons why someone needs to have that personal space. #1) Suffering from Sensory Disorder. #2) OCD for/against cleanliness/germs. #3) JUST DON’T LIKE IT.
Again, I was a quiet, shy child so I never voiced my opinion or disdain for this haeneous activity and suffered silently. As I grew older though, it amazed me that this type of behavior continued.
As a pregnant women, I have been subject to serious abusers of personal space. Why the big belly calls out for a rub, I’ll never understand. It beckons people . If it’s a female relative, I get it. It’s still weird and I have fallen pray to it as well, but I ALWAYS ask first and never make it last longer than necessary. But, I had co-workers and even strangers on the subway just reach out and “awww” and “ohhhh” as they rubbed my belly without permission. AWKWARD!
We’ve instituted a personal space rule in my house. For obvious reasons.
- It limits the amount of times we hear, “He’s touching me!” because in theory there is supposed to be a certain distance between each child at the dinner table. Cootie Free Environment.
- The ketchup factor. G-d help anyone who is near the boy with that stuff. We may all suffer if that gets anywhere near him.
- No one in their right mind likes to be breathed on. It’s just gross.
- In the event that someone is smelly, there is a buffer.
- Sticky fingers are disgusting. “Sticky” is subjective to the person using the term and may not be agreed upon by all parties. (Alert: Code RED: Space Invaders!)
The list goes on but basically we know where we stand with each other. Usually at least a 1/2 a foot away. Opposite gender siblings can not stand to be touched by the other one. Unless they are fighting, wrestling, or tickling. Poking is a no-no. Thumb wrestling is ok – but sometimes gets outta’ hand. (get it? harharhar). Arm wrestling always ends up in a full body Nelson and crying so we try to avoid that type of contact if possible.
We try to encourage hugging. “Show the love!” I scream from another level when I hear things getting out of control. I can hear phrases like, “I am gonna’ smash your face if you come near me again!”. An empty threat if I ever heard one, considering the rule.
It was fun to see that my children were also blessed with squishy pudgy cheeks as well. I was protective though. Making sure no one grabbed on for dear life. I know it’s tempting but we are not Bell Telephone. Do not reach out and touch someone!