The other day, Ellie and I were taking a joy ride to the gas station for a coke. We both needed the fresh air, the soda fountain and space from everyone else we’re socially distancing WITH. Part of her remote learning (I love this fancy term for a not-fancy reality. We call it survival learning at our house, but whatever.) involves a great resource called newsela. On it, Ellie reads each day from a newspaper, learns about current events and issues and then answers a few comprehension questions about the nonfiction piece she just, hopefully, comprehended.
She tells me during our joy ride, “Did you know, Mom, that human bodies need touch just like sheep do? I learned this from newsela today and thought it was interesting.”
Legit, that’s what she said. We need physical touch just. like. sheep.
Did you know?
Well, yes, I told her, I knew we needed physical touch and affection, but didn’t know it was a need “just like sheep’s.” Of course, she continues:
“Ok, let me explain it to you. (If you personally knew Ellie, you’d be able to hear her little gerbil voice saying this and be assured these were her real words. This is actually how she sounds when she talks. Like she’s twenty years old, in a tiny body.) Human bodies don’t like to NOT touch. They like to feel other bodies, you know Mom, like sheep. When we’re not able to touch other people – you know like our friends and our teachers and, I don’t know, just other people we know and we like (she’s like her mother – we’re big touchers.), we start to actually get sick. We start to feel lonely and sad – and that’s what imaginary friends are for.”
Oh. Ok. Imaginary friends?
“Yep. This is what they’re for, and it’s a good thing I have two. Can you imagine how sad you’d be if you didn’t have ANY?”
No. I cannot imagine, Ellie. Would be terrible. Tragic, really. I’m so glad for you that you have Alice and Parker (her imaginary friends that are actually frogs, but whatever).
“Right. But anyway, newsela said today that being kind keeps us healthy! That when you can only touch the people you live with, and you start to feel grumpy and sad, the best thing to do for your health was to be kind! Did you know that?”
“Yes. I’m so glad Mrs. Dunn knows we need to read stories like the ones on newsela. Because then I can learn that being kind is important and good for you and actually helps you feel better! Aren’t you glad I have newsela, Mom?”
Yes, Ellie. So glad. Otherwise, despite the fact I talk about being kind and loving and gentle and forgiving all. the. damn. time., you’d never actually believe me and wouldn’t learn!
“Exactly, Mom. For sure.”
Good talk, Russ. Good talk.
Feel me? Physical touch is important. Just like it is for sheep. I hope, for your sake, you are getting all the touch you need and have imaginary friends to commiserate with.