While on a weekend trip to San Antonio with my sons, I noticed a man dressed in a Phantom of the Opera costume holding a “Free Hugs” sign. Most people pointed and keep walking, but I was intrigued. I had to stop and talk to him.
“Can I have a hug?” I asked.
“Certainly,” he replied. I gave him a one-armed man hug and patted him on the back.
“May I ask why you’re standing out here holding that sign?” I asked.
He smiled and looked me in the eyes. “I just want to make the world a better place,” he said. “I don’t have a fancy job or a lot of money, but I do have the desire to spread love as far as I can.”
“That’s a great mission to have,” I said. “I hope you get plenty of hugs to today.”
As we walked away, my 9-year-old son shook his head at me. ”I can’t believe you hugged that guy,” he said. “You don’t even know him.”
“You’re right,” I said. “I don’t know him, but I do know that people yearn for connection and we all must do our part to connect with one another.” I explained to him that hugging strangers on the street was probably not the best way to do that, but I encouraged him to figure out ways that he could improve the lives of others.
As a spoke to my son, something amazing happened . Other people stopped to get free hugs. Pretty soon, my Phantom friend had a steady stream of people seeking a friendly embrace. I grabbed both of my boys and squeezed them tight as we witnessed the outpouring of love.
That encounter showed me the importance of human contact. It was great to see total strangers embracing one another other, taking photographs, and sharing laughs. We need these types of positive experiences to soothe our souls and help us to fully connect with our humanity.
I encourage all parents to hug your kids as much as possible. This simple gesture could make a huge difference in their lives. Best of all, it’s free.
Question: Have you hugged your children today?