Please, hug your kids tight.

If you’ve tuned into the news lately in Brisbane (and honestly, probably in Queensland), you would have seen that police are currently investigating the death of a little girl, Tiahleigh Palmer. It was first listed as a suspicious death near the Pimpama River, and late last night it was revealed that Tiahleigh, who had last been seen near Marsden State High, was the victim of this horrible atrocity. Police have been trying to put together a timeline of what occurred in the past week there, and so have been asking anyone who had been in the area in that time to call Crime Stoppers.

As some of you may know, one of my many jobs is at Crime Stoppers, and contrary to popular belief, we do not wear capes and superhero costumes to work – though we should. That would be fantastic. So the police made this appeal early yesterday evening, and I got called into work in a massive panic because the calls were coming in like there was no tomorrow. And the same thing happened today.

Work is work – and it was just busier than usual. We put our heads down, listened to everyone’s information, and smashed out the reports. But even though it was busy, I did manage to nab a little bit of time to myself to reflect on this massive influx of people calling in. And I realised that it was a testament to the nature of all of these people that they were willing to call in and provide any and as much information as possible so this little girl and her family could have peace, and that whoever did this could be caught and brought to justice. (Yes, even the people who repeat their information five times just to make sure I’ve gotten all the details down).

Thinking about this then brought me back to yesterday afternoon, when I picked up one of my friend’s kids from AFL so she could go to work (ironically, I ended up seeing her at work anyway!). I adore children, and they adore me, so it was really no trouble. Also – we got to go to McDonald’s (mainly because I hadn’t eaten lunch) and he told me about all the weird and funny things his parents had done.

Anyway. So I was sitting on the school oval, watching seven year olds trying to bounce footballs while stationary, then while moving, and then attempting to actually play some kind of football game. All of this was hilarious, as expected, but I kept noticing something else when I was there: the unabashed, overflowing amount of love these children had for their parents, and vice versa.

They’d come running off the oval to grab a drink, and they were all *so* happy to see their parents. Some of them literally jumped into their mother or father’s arms, almost bowling them over. And seeing that kind of pure, unadulterated love – it actually made me quite upset, because I don’t know if I ever displayed that sort of love for my parents when I was little – maybe I did, at some point. But I most certainly don’t remember doing so, and I most certainly don’t harbour that sort of feeling now.

I haven’t had the best relationship with either of my parents for the best part of nearly nine years. Maybe some of that is attributed to the culture in which they thought they had to adhere, and some of it is related to the fact that in some respects, they completely misunderstand and refuse to understand who I am and who I want to be. I remember wanting my mother to be my best friend when I was younger, like every other girl’s mother seemed to be, but over time, I realised that was never going to happen. We’ve come to a sort of middle ground now, and even though I know she’s never going to be the person I want her to be, for some reason, I still hold out hope.

There’s an assumption of love, in Chinese culture. You never say that you love someone, not even to people in your own family – I honestly don’t know why. Tradition, probably. I know they love me, and I know they always will, but a lot of the time, it doesn’t seem that way. A lot of the time, it seems like they do so out of obligation. I can’t presume to know why, but those are two of the most obvious reasons.

But – and this might sound stupid, and insignificant, and any other word you might choose to place *here* – neither of my parents have never told me that they love me. It seems like such a silly thing, but to me, it means the world – a world I don’t think I can ever really have.

So hug your kids, your nieces and nephews, your friend’s kids – hug them tight. Tell them you will be looking out for them, that you love them. Because you never know – it might just make all the difference.

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