Yes. You read that right. Please don’t touch my baby. Before you write me off as a rude and selfish mother, please read on.
Whenever we are out with Elliott, we will inevitably encounter a stranger (or 5) interacting with him. It can range from funny faces in the lift (ok) to trying to carry him (NO BLOODY WAY). I’ve also had many strangers, both females and males, reach out their hand and naturally, the son will grab their (WHERE HAVE YOUR HANDS BEEN?!?!!) finger. Sometimes, he decides to stick THAT stranger’s finger INTO his mouth.
Let me state upfront that I am not a germaphobe. Not an obsessed one anyway. I don’t religiously wash and sanitize Elliott’s new toys. I give his chew toys a quick wipe down instead of washing it (if I don’t have access to a water source). I don’t wipe down baby chairs at restaurants (although I really should!). So yes, I’m a believer of “some germs won’t kill my child”.
However, I am OBSESSED about not exchanging germs between humans directly. I get irrationally upset whenever I see someone cough and wheeze WITHOUT COVERING THEIR MOUTH in a public space, like a crowded MRT or bus. This was me pre-baby. Can you now imagine how I feel when such scenarios take place post-baby?
I mean, think about it. These dear dear strangers. I don’t know where their (grubby) hands have been. I know that many do not wash their hands THOROUGHLY WITH SOAP after visiting the toilet. I know this for a fact because I’ve seen it happen one too many times at public loos. I speak for the ladies, of course.
Now, think about it. Men. Pee. Men and pee. Men have to touch their genitals when they pee. I am pretty sure there is a good percentage out there who do not wash their hands WITH SOAP after a pee session. Eeeeeuw. And how many times did I use the word ‘pee’?
My mum’s wise words: “Aiya, people touch Elliott because he’s cute mah. Baby not cute, no one wants to touch lor.” I can always trust mum to be brutally honest. But hmm. So should I be very pleased that strangers are pawing my baby because it’s a compliment? Or should I step in when I see their hands going towards him?
I’ve had strangers touch his cheeks, hold his hand, tap his thighs, rub his head. One extended her arms and wanted to carry him. I had to quickly say that he will cry when strangers carry him. A bit of a white lie there but I DON’T WANT STRANGERS CARRYING MY BABY! Just typing that made me sigh. These are perfect strangers. As this wise blogger aptly wrote: Shouldn’t one ask for permission before touching something that doesn’t belong to you?
It’s bad enough when they touch your baby without permission. Quite a few also decide that you want their unsolicited advice or start questioning why your child has rashes on his face, like you’re a negligent mother who did not clean your poor child’s face properly. Some question why Elliott is in a carrier (very bad for spine!, they wail) or why don’t I just use the stroller and not “make it a habit” of carrying him. All of these coming from people I have never met in my life. I try and not take it personally. I tell myself that people are concerned and because we are Asians, it is “in us” to dole out parenting advice to anyone who cares to listen. Or not.
I love babies even before I became a mother but I never did touch babies. I loved smiling and cooing at them from a distance but never ever touched them. It just did not feel right. Well, there was this one time when a baby yanked my ponytail while I was seated on the bus. I think her mum was more horrified than I was. I was just amused.
So yes. Please don’t touch my baby, or anyone else’s baby without asking first. It is really quite rude and perhaps some parents may love the attention showered on their child by total strangers but trust me when I say that the majority of new parents today are silently cringing in their heads and screaming: DON’T TOUCH MY BABYYYYYY!
Stranger uncle and Elliott. He is not very amused, as you can see. For the record, stranger uncle was very kindly so I did not have the heart to tell him not to touch Elliott. Oh, the dilemma.