If you are a parent, teacher, aunt, uncle, babysitter, big sister, big brother, or grandparent —most likely you have had that indescribable feeling when a much littler person grabs your big hand to take you somewhere, and if you are lucky, holds on tight to lead you somewhere. When my little girls (3 and 4) take my hand this way, it is often followed up with “Let me show you something” or “Help me do something” or “I can’t find…” Many of you have often felt this squeeze and felt the joy of being “needed” and being “chosen.”
When I’m feeling good, (meaning either pretty calm or on the higher end of the bipolar spectrum) there are very few things that make me feel as good as those tiny hands. I love that they are curious hands, learning hands, and naive hands–so much left to explore hands. They are soft and precious and somehow, with the grace of God, were created by my husband and myself. I want to take those tiny hands on adventures–show them, teach them, help them find things; let them be messy and wild. As my mood revs up, I want to see if their hands could touch animals at the zoo, sand at the beach, clothes at the mall, roller coaster at the park, water at the pool—all in the same day.
When my mood shifts however, those tiny hands are suddenly frightening and difficult for me to handle. A simple request with a hand to “Let me show you something” seems equivalent to “Climb Mount Everest with me.” My whole body feels stuck in cement. I want to give their hands a quick squeeze and go to sleep until I can move again. I look at their tiny hands and know that those hands will not stay tiny. They will grow into big kid hands, teen hands and eventually grown up hands. I examine the lines on those tiny hands closely and put my own hands together and pray that those lines will not lead to this illness–this illness that is so scary to me right now.