Hands are useful communicators.
Sometimes we use them deliberately, pointing at an object of interest or gesturing to show how large or small an item is.
Other times they are less intentional – for example, someone may scratch their head or rub their chin while thinking, subtly communicating to others that now is not a good time to interrupt them, or that the pause in the conversation doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention!
Sometimes we are able to communicate emotions or needs with our hands faster than we are able to share them verbally.
My husband and my mom will both notice when my hands drift to my arms and start picking (a sign of escalating tension or anxiety, typically), and try to address whatever is going on; it would be very difficult for me to break into the flow of the conversation to bring up my anxiety until I was much closer to a meltdown.
Another good example of this is from Rondel the other afternoon, when he saw a bee near Aubade in the kiddie pool and started flapping his hands frantically until I came over and asked what was wrong; he told me later that his hands were telling me that he needed me. The worry of the moment made it difficult for him to access the relevant words, but his hands were able to alert me that something was going on.
Probably my favorite expression of hand communication, however, comes from a moment when Rondel’s hands were demonstrating a thrill of joy.
We were stopped at a red light waiting to turn left out of our neighborhood, and the boys asked me why we weren’t moving. “We’re waiting for the light to turn green,’ I explained, and showed them where to watch for the green light. When it finally turned green, Rondel’s hands went crazy waving around – and a minute later, when he had calmed down, he told me (referring to himself as “you”) that “Your hands were dancing because you were so excited that the light turned green!”
His hands were dancing.
I can’t really think of a more beautiful way to express the unadulterated, uninhibited demonstration of joy and excitement that is Rondel’s happy hand flapping. His hands were communicating to me the rush of pleasure that he was feeling, allowing me to share in it more deeply than a verbal declaration would have accomplished.