my daughter’s hands


Stopping on the way out of camp to touch the earth. July 3rd, 2013


Those who trust us, educate us.

T.S. Eliot


My girl feels her way through the world.

It’s what she does.

It’s the way that she learns.

It’s a big part of who she is.

Sensorial experiences mean far more to her than the words that the rest of us arbitrarily assign to them. And isn’t that the way it should be? The essence of feeling itself more valuable than our suspect attempts to describe it?

Her hands are finely tuned instruments — collecting data, sorting and storing information, registering and cataloging thousands upon thousands of moments in a life lived through touch.

Her fingers are her antennae. Her nails scratch to see what’s just below the surface. Her fingertips rub and poke and push to read texture, temperature, density, elasticity, porosity. The feelings, the senses — they are her memories. They are what matter.

And so it is that THIS is a big deal. A really, really big deal.

It takes a lifetime of trust for my daughter to give you her hand.

It is why it is so incredibly violating to presume the right to try to take it without asking. It is why “hand over hand” instruction is not EVER okay without TRUST and CONSENT. It is why grabbing her hand to pull her into a line or redirect her will invariably result in an ‘unexpected’ yelp. Not really so unexpected if you stop to think about why.

To grab her hands is to strangle her point of connection with the world.

It’s not okay.

I love holding hands. But I’ve come to understand why it’s so hard for Brooke to do.

Now when we walk, I offer her my arm. She takes it by linking hers through mine, as though I’m escorting her to a ball. We are linked, but her hands are free to do what they do. To touch, to discover, to learn,to interact, to FEEL.

And once in a rare while, she offers up a gift.


And I’m lucky enough to know exactly how much it means.

12 thoughts on “my daughter’s hands

  1. So agree. My son is almost three, and all physical affection is on his fickle terms. I was thinking just today how gorgeous and perfect it feels when his little hand is mine as he tows me wherever he feels. It’s rare enough, so I always try to hang on for as long as I can!

  2. I love your writing. I am dating a man who has two autistic daughters. Sadly, his ex wife moved them 800 miles away. It breaks my heart. Please look me up on Facebook if you can. I am at work so I can’t follow you on here..or put your twitter name so I can get it on my phone. Great writing and I would love to follow you. I would like to learn more about autism so that when I get the chance to be around his daughters I can be a good assistance to my boyfriend. Thank you!! Beverly White Frederick on Facebook. Have a wonderful day! God Bless!!

    • Beverly,

      Unfortunately, I can’t reach out to you via FB, but you can find me there, along with a wonderful community of folks. Just search for ‘Diary of a Mom’ under public pages and ‘like’ the page to get updates! Hope to see you there.



  3. very well said. my girl is the same way. like you i have been able to put myself in her position to understand her world better. its so special every time when you offer up the chance to hold hands or even a big hug and they want it. iits that feeling of trust because we understand them better than everyone else, have a good day.

  4. Any touch from your child is always a wonder. It’s so special that you know what her touch means to her and to you…
    Love you,

  5. My son too prefers taking my arm but not so his hands will be free to explore but just to be free as he avoids touching most of the time.

  6. Something we crave so much is so hard for our kids at times but those moments – those all so perfect but small moments – fill our cravings long enough until the next time. Simply beautiful Jess.

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