Ever since my son began walking he’s been tall enough for me to reach down and touch his head. It’s a very natural to comfort or steer him by putting my hand on his skull. In fact, I realize that I’ve done this with other children as well, and most adults seem to instinctively touch a small child on the head.
Yet once a child reaches the teen years, we no longer touch them lightly or lovingly on the skull. And then, for the rest of our lives we are rarely, if ever, met with a gentle hand on our face or through our hair. I’ve come to think there is something very wrong with this.
Maybe it’s because we’re all worried about our perfect hair. Maybe we like wearing our baseball cap too much. Or maybe touching someone’s head seems very personal or strange. Any child or any animal we barely know instinctively gets a touch or scratch on the head. Meanwhile people we love get a handshake, or maybe a hug at most. Whatever the reason, I believe we’re all missing a good head-scratch and loving hand in our hair.
I believe this because you can buy head-scratching devices in your local Brookstone, Sky-mall, or wherever absurd inventions are sold. Plus, I’ve heard many people talk about the great scalp massage they got at their hair dresser or the spa. This means I’m not alone.
Now, I’m not suggesting that head-rubbing become the standard greeting of adults everywhere. But, I am saying that even among those we are closest to a head rub or scratch isn’t in our roster of touch.
Unless a kid or a dog wonders up, and then suddenly everyone in the room becomes a head scratcher. If this gesture shows love to children and pets, what makes it too good for adults?
Then I have another thought. A sad realization. Children and animals are beneath us, we love them and respect what they can do, but still see them as less than our peers. Somehow, this amazing gesture also has a bit of condescension. That’s too bad, because I believe we’d like a scratch behind the ears just as much as any dog.
Of course, there’s another problem. Kids and pets are cuter than we are. Maybe the head-scratch is reserved for the cute ones, and the rest of us have to shop in skymall.