At a meeting with returning students, the class of 2013 heard a lot about how at Downtown High School "we don't put our hands on each other."
This is Principal J's euphemism for the "f" word. He doesn't tolerate fisticuffs and is ashamed that most years there are as many as three or four incidents of "hand on behavior," as he put it to the parents on Wednesday evening. He is proud of a recent year with no such incidents, practically unheard of for a large, diverse American high school.
Not yet indoctrinated to the language of the Downtown High School culture, the freshmen were a bit puzzled.
Perhaps if someone had said, "We don't fight here."
But they kept hearing the words, "We don't put our hands on each other."
So someone asked the question, "Is it okay if we hug?"
I first noticed this hugging thing when #1 Son went to college five years ago, or rather when I went to pick him up for Fall Break and all his male friends hugged him goodbye. I'm a hugger myself, and I have to remember to let others take the lead when I'm in the role of their pastor. Even asking doesn't make it right when you're in that position. But I love to hug even my less huggy family members — you know who you are — and my friends.
Hugging at Downtown High School, apparently, is okay, though LP clearly distinguishes between the
friendly greeting and the icky PDA that couples really ought to keep to
themselves in her opinion, thank you very much. I'm sure there is further refining of the ground rules to come.
(And if I once got in trouble for smooching by my locker, we'll remember I was young then. And foolish. Because my boyfriend's mother worked in the school attendance office. And she had my mother's phone number. And she wasn't afraid to use it.)
I'm happy that people have become less formal, more open and more expressive. It gives me hope for the day the world is in the hands, or the arms, of Generation Hug.