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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 04.21.11
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

I wanna hold your hand... really

There's a myth in our house that claims I don't like holding hands -- a myth perpetrated by my own wife.

"Your father," she likes to tell the children, "was too embarrassed to hold my hand when we started going out."

First of all, I don't see why that would be since I was only too eager to demonstrate that, contrary to all reasonable expectations, I had in fact been able to bag me a babe. Embarrassed? Ha! If anyone should have been embarrassed, it should have been her.

Secondly, it wasn't that I wouldn't hold hands but that I wouldn't hold hands for very long. Holding hands is fine, lovely, romantic, peachy, but after a while your hands gets, well, sweaty. Or they start to cramp up, especially if you've got your fingers oh-so-intimately intertwined.

Or maybe you're carrying something in your other hand and you need to free up your romantic hand; there's a fine line between love and endurance, after all, and I'm inclined to side with "I love you, honey, but I really have to scratch my nose."

Plus, the record clearly indicates that my hand-holding has been statistically average or above average over the past two decades (with understandable anomalies during periods of flu-pandemic paranoia). This is because during that time the Murray-Bishop Progeny Project has been forging ahead full-steam, with a steady supply of little hands to hold.

Granted, holding a child's hand is far different from romantic hand-holding. For one, the hands are usually (though not always) stickier. Toddler hand-holding is also more about safety -- the child's own sense of security, the parent ensuring the child doesn't get trampled in WalMart. Mostly, though, holding hands is just... nice -- walking home from school, chatting about the meanies and the crybabies, and who made a stinky. And sometimes the kid chats too.

Then one day it stops. I'm vague on when this happened with my first three because there was always a hand in waiting. But Abby turns 10 in June, and I see signs of the end of hand-holding for good.

For one, we can see most of our family room floor again as the outgrown toys slowly recede like a Lego glacier.

Then there's the biking with friends, the "No Parents Allowed" poster (inherited from her brother and only half-heartedly meant), the sudden mastery of sarcasm.

And, of course, there are the questions...

Earlier this week, Abby and I were waiting at the hospital for some blood work. After a bit of I Spy (Me: "I spy something round"; Abby, pointing to a pregnant woman: "Her belly?"), we discussed what she was going to buy from the vending machine, something to serve as both a reward and breakfast -- because sometimes there's nothing wrong with Doritos for breakfast, right?

"I have money," Abby said, pulling a Toonie from her pocket.

"Where'd you get that?" I asked.

"The tooth fairy. Last night."

"Oh yeah, right."

Abby paused, then said, "It's probably the parents who put the money there."

Uh-oh...

"Oh yeah? Says who?" (A classic diversionary tactic.)

Abby shrugged.

"Well, I know I didn't put it there," I added, unwisely prolonging the conversation.

She thought. Then: "Did you hear Mom get up in the night?"

"No," I said, which was true, because she hadn't, and that answer seemed to fill all the logical gaps, putting an end to the discussion.

But she's wavering, I can tell. They say the Berlin Wall wavered at first...

Eventually our number came up, and Abby braved the needle like a champion. ("No finger prick?" "No finger prick." "Whew!") We gathered up our belongings and headed for the vending machines.

The way I'd dodged the tooth fairy query wasn't exactly my finest parenting moment (he thought as he bought Doritos for breakfast). But I'm not ready for the innocence to be over. Can't it last just a little longer?

We walked down the hall to the elevator.

"Can I hold your hand?" Abby asked. Of course. Any time. And make sure to tell your mother.

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through www.townships.ca. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca.

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