Monday, March 17, 2014

Get Your Paws Off My Kid. Please.

When it comes to babies and pregnant women, people can lose sight of common, reasonable, decent boundaries. They say things they shouldn't. They touch things they shouldn't. They behave in ways that they shouldn't. I've written about this several times (here and here), but from the perspective of a non-parent. Now that I'm a parent, I have different (read: more intense) feelings about it and I also have personal experience with it.

Here's a recent story. I'm walking out of LLBean. I'm holding my daughter on my hip. It's cold out. My daughter and I are bundled in our puffy jackets and mittens and hats. A man, probably mid-forties, approaches us. He starts by addressing my daughter, "Hey Champ! Hey Champ!!!" It didn't bother me that he called my daughter "champ", which is typically used to reference boys. It was kinda funny and kinda awkward, because she was dressed from hat to boot in pink, but not bothersome. Next, he grabbed her hat by the front edge, on her forehead, and shook it back and forth while shouting "Grrrrr! Grrrrr!" It seemed like he was trying to growl at her in a playful way, but it came off friggin' crazy. And the shaking of her hat, and thus her head, was just wrong.

This story is one of several that I've collected. Thankfully, I don't have a ton of stories and none are jaw dropping bad and my daughter has never been upset by an encounter. But, regardless of the frequency or level of intrusion, it drives me nuts when a stranger touches my daughter. Even if it's the brim of her hat. The guy in the story above never would have grabbed my hat and growled at me. Imagine that?

I'm still working on my reaction in these situations. So far, I haven't said much (or anything). I usually try to just avoid the impending touch when I see it coming. I swoop in and pull my daughter away or back up a couple steps or turn my grocery cart sharply to the left. But, I'm going to have to develop a response, something that doesn't upset my daughter (i.e. not overly dramatic), yet succinctly notifies the offender of their wrongdoing. Because some people don't get it - it's not okay to touch a stranger's baby. It's totally inappropriate. Unless you have explicit permission or exceptionally good reason, keep your paws to yourself.

Do you have one of these stories? How did you react? Do you disagree and think it's okay for strangers to touch your baby? 

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