Sure enough, his dad quickly reminded him that they hold hands when going near the street. There was some question of whether or not his son was going to willfully rebel and dart out anyway, defying a rule he didn't agree with. So the dad grabbed his hand. His son resisted, tugging to get loose. It was now a battle of bigger-versus-smaller, and you probably remember how it feels to be the smaller one. Perhaps annoyed with the tugging, or in an effort to prevent a bigger "argument," the dad leaned down close, used his firm, I-mean-it voice and said just two words - his son's name and "hands." Then off they went, safely crossing through the parking lot. From the viewpoint of modern, good parenting, the dad did well.
For me, I saw the dynamics of a wall being built. Innocently, unconsciously. I saw the fun they were having die. Their joyful connection was now shut down. They had become rigid and silent. Most likely they were each thinking furiously, and what they were thinking wasn't making them feel good. What I've come to understand is that the dad and the boy were each believing what they were thinking. Perhaps the boy was thinking, "Daddy thinks I'm too stupid to stay beside him as we cross. " Or, "Daddy makes everyone think I'm a little baby by holding my hand. He doesn't care how I feel." Perhaps the dad was thinking, "I'm supposed to keep him safe. Why is he always fighting me? He doesn't respect me." Here's the thing: whatever they were really thinking, those thoughts were tiny, little bricks of hurt that were being cemented into place on a tiny, little wall building up between them. Maybe I can help you and your kids avoid placing bricks between you.
By the time I was a teenager, my dad and I had built up so much distance between us - built in little, tiny increments just like