Standring column: Kids need hygge: Cozy time far from the world of adults acting out
Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
One evening my two granddaughters oohed at my candle-lit living room. I said, “Let’s have hygge (pronounced “hyoo-guh”), a Norwegian word meaning coziness and comfort. It is the origin of the word “hug.” We spent the evening laughing, snuggling, and playing games. Two years later, hygge is our code word for “let’s be together in peace and quiet.” And who wouldn’t want that right now?
The adult world acts out relentlessly in front of children, even as kids endure a difficult “new normal.” Their formative school years are done largely onscreen. Childhood experiences, long taken for granted, are verboten; hanging out in groups and large in-person activities. I asked my teen granddaughter, “So who do you have a crush on this year?” She said, “Nobody. There’s no chance of knowing anybody.”
Safety and science advise limitations, and eventually, such challenges will pass.
But meanwhile, far too many adults dissent, demand and accuse. Doesn’t this make kids feel insecure?
I often think, “I cannot control others, I can only control my reaction to others.”
My going-up-in-a-sheet-of-flame is kept to a minimum. (Well, I’m trying.)
Therefore, when my family gathers, I light candles, cook up something delish and round the covered wagons into a circle of optimism.
Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
Let’s keep it lofty. Our evenings recall memories and share future plans. The kids’ thoughts take center stage, and trust me, politics is never at the forefront of their minds.
Whenever I visit their house, I keep it breezy.
“So,” I say to 12-year-old Lulu, “tell me all the secrets you won’t tell anyone else.”
Oh, that gets a big laugh!
Well, she took a test on a Harry Potter website and she belongs to Gryffindor House.
“Want to see what house you belong to?” she asked.
“Sign me up!” I said.
Turns out I’m a fit for Hufflepuff House.
I faked a sad reaction. “But Lulu, I want to be in Gryffindor with you!”
Then she took me on a video tour of Hufflepuff and said, “But look how nice their common room is! It’s so much nicer than Gryffindor.”
She thought I was serious and wanted me to feel better. Compassion is a leadership trait, and I said, “You go, Gryffindor Gal!”
I love the evenings when such conversations go long into the night. Candles cast a glow on dogs, kids and adults sharing blankets on the sofa, telling stories that remind us to be grateful.
It’s been a hard school year so far, so I asked, “Kids, any special ideas for ways to spend Thanksgiving Day?
They said, “We just want to have hygge with you.”
Do not underestimate the draw of peace and positive words. It’s our job to show kids how it’s done.
Email Suzette Martinez Standring at email@example.com.