The Therapeutic Value of Touch

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The old saw rings true, “Once a nurse, always a nurse.”  I learned as a youngster the value of touch.  My mother was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis before I ever entered the world, and a rough touch left skin slips or bruises on her fragile skin.  I learned early on the art of grasping without leaving a mark.  I learned as a student in pediatrics that babies denied a loving touch develop a syndrome known as failure to thrive and die without intervention.  A gentle touch became ingrained as a way of life.

I now home school a sweet red-headed grand with freckles and a lovable chuckle.  In almost every way she is a delight.  She’s just…messy!  Very, very messy.  I often wonder how a little girl who loves Fancy Nancy and all things pretty, especially all things that sparkle, can present me such ugly work.

Do overs, extended bouts of penmanship, scolding, praising, nothing fazes her.  Every day I see her becoming more and more entrenched in habits of messiness. Thus I decided one day, after receiving yet another page of abominable handwriting, that radical action be taken immediately.  A campaign was in order.  A gentle undertaking to touch her soul.

pensI added a summer course of calligraphy.  We find character building scriptures on relevant topics and letter them in fancy styles, adding flourishes and swirls, and on her paper, that means a lot of swirls everywhere.  She loves it.  Her calligraphy requires a loving eye in order to offer any praise, but here’s the point:  She invests almost an hour in one line or sentence, which is 59 more minutes normally occupied in writing the same line on any given day.  I offer hope for improvement.

Every parent or grandparent possesses the opportunity to touch the life of a child, and every child needs those loving touches.  This sweetie just lost her daddy, so every hug, every word of encouragement, every smile wrenched out of her situation equals a weighted touch.  So I’m learning to be generous.  Touch a child, your own or another’s, and offer an imprint on a little growing soul.  The soul you bless may one day legislate your Social Security, save your life in an ambulance, or just eat family dinner with you…but trust me, two lives reap the benefit, both now and later.  I encourage you, gentle reader, touch a little life.  You’ll find it therapeutic for everyone involved.

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