29 January 2014
This is my latest source of irritation. It's happened numerous times now, and I'm never sure how to handle it. Does this happen to you? Do complete strangers walk up to you on the street and touch your kid?
As I don't have this impulse (my impulse when seeing babies and small children is to smile at them and maybe make a face), I can't sympathize with them. I just want to shout, or run, or do something that goes against the ingrained politeness. I usually settle for awkwardly backing away, but at some point, I'm going to really lose it. Especially when awkwardly backing away means that they follow me.
In what universe is it okay to walk up to a woman you don't know and poke at her baby without so much as asking permission? I'm pretty sure that if she was older, people wouldn't be doing that (I hope), so why does being a baby mean that she's immune to those rules?
Seriously. There's the germs thing. There's the fact that my child sticks everything in her mouth these days, so if they stick a finger towards her face, she will try to grab it and stuff it in her mouth. There's also the "you are touching a complete stranger without their permission" thing. Not okay.
What also bothers me is that it happens mostly when she's in the baby carrier, so not only are they touching her, they're getting awfully close to me. This means that they are breaking some of the unspoken rules about how close to get to someone in this culture. It takes invading my personal space to invade my child's personal space.
I've had a few suggestions from friends. One said, riffing on the "telling people your baby bites" idea, to say that she's a vampire and she bites. I'm tempted. I could just poke the person back and say, "Oh, sorry, I thought it was try to touch a complete stranger bingo," but I'm not sure I'm bold enough for that.
In the meantime, it's enough to make me want to put this on a onesie.