At Arm’s Length

In the begginning of the movie, the Princess Bride, the boy finds out that his grandfather is comming for a visit. He asks if his grandfather is going to pinch his cheek because he hates that. He does. The boy has a classic look on his face, a mixture of ‘I knew it./I hate this.’

I knew how the kid felt. You see, my grandmother refuses to acknowledge her kids age, treating them as children. She’s even worse to her older grandchildren, some of whom have children of their own. She does the same sort of thing, violating personal space. Even worse when it’s obvious that she’s making you uncomfortable she’ll never fail to point out how you are the one at fault. It’s as if she silently says, “Aww, I didn’t make my grandbaby uncomfie did I? It’s your fault for not loving me.’ Without fail, if you’re within six feet of her at at public place, she will suddenly get even more touchy-feely. She’s not fooling us. We know she does it so she can seem loving to her grandchildren when strangers walk by. She wants to make them jealous and us miserable in one fell swoop.

It’s my rule of them to keep her at arms length whenever possible and to have an avenue of escape if needed. I can’t always get away with it, but I can try. You might think it’s sad that I even keep my family at a distance, but just because she’s family doesn’t mean that I really know her. I do know of her. I know that she will always care more for herself than me. I know that somewhere she does care about me, but she doesn’t really care about how I feel. She doesn’t bring us anything unless she didn’t want it first. That’s just the way it is. So she hasn’t earned my trust or permission to enter my personal space.

Now I’m at church, my grandfather’s church and he hugs me. Hugs are usually ok with me, so I didn’t have a problem. I joked to my mother “if this gets to be a touchy-feely place, I’m out of here.” Then a four-foot grandmotherly type woman came over and gave me a hug. I had no idea who the woman was, I didn’t give her permission to shake my hand, let alone a hug. I told my mom “I’m out of here.” which gave us both a good laugh. To be honest, I was glad that I had visited many churches in the height of the h1n1 virus scare, people who were usually touchy-feely were too afraid to be their usual selves.

I remember watching an episode of Howie Do It where a reporter was instructed to give an interview, be touchy-feely, and stand quite close to the subjects. Time and time again the people were obviously uncomfortable and often took a step or two back. It’s strange how nobody would think twice about it, but when it comes to family you’re supposed to let them be like that. I think the permission to be close must be earned. Where do you stand on this issue?

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...Anyway, that's just how I feel about it ... What do you think?

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