If you say you have never lied, you are almost certainly lying. Only little lies, you say? Well, it’s long been thought that’s where the seeds of dishonesty are usually sown. Even convicted swindler Bernie Madoff thought so. According to his secretary, he said: “Well, you know what happens, it starts out with you taking a little bit . . . and before you know it, it snowballs into something big.”
The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has put lead back in the news. By now, anyone who’s paying attention must know that lead is a potent neurotoxin that can permanently affect a child’s ability to learn. But I suspect very few understand what it is exactly that lead does to a child’s brain. How else could politicians like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie claim that the situation is “overdramatized?”
I resolve to change it up this resolution season.
Usually, at this time of year, I’m as game as anyone for creating a to-do list of self-improvement. I have always thought of it as an annual refocusing of attention and regularly vowed to exercise more, eat better, work smarter and so on. When the repetitive nature of these promises and the implied lack of progress threatened to depress me, I’d tell myself, “at least I’m consistent!” All those goals are still valid. I would still like to exercise more, eat better and work smarter.
My three sons are nearly all teenagers, but I remember the minutes immediately after each child’s birth as sharply as if the boys had entered the world this morning. Receiving my new babies into my arms, I hugged each one to my chest, caressed his back, and kissed the top of his tiny head. And then we stayed there like that for quite awhile, mother and child.
The sense of touch had a lot to do with why those moments were so powerful. Touch has long been understood to be important in nurturing relationships—so much so that babies raised in orphanages without it often died. Those first moments with my children, followed by years of cuddles and hugs, no doubt contributed mightily to the deep bonds between us.
We did a little science experiment at dinner the other night. My son Matthew looked at a glass in front of him then reached out to touch it with his forefinger. Gently and precisely, he made contact with the side closest to him. Then I had him pull his hand back and I covered his left eye.
“Now try again,” I said.
He reached out just as before, but this time when his finger touched the glass, he bumped it a little harder and a little clumsily, sending the glass scooting an inch further along the table.