Friday, July 12, 2013

Your Intentions Don't Mean Squat

The more time I spend getting ready for the baby to arrive the more I remember from when my son was a baby. How his baby laugh sounded (like a dirty old man), when he first smiled (in a hotel we stayed at on our way to TX while I sang him the ABC's song), where we gave him his baths, how he looked when he was napping, how he took to new foods. Then there are the not so pleasant memories. A week of nothing but crying with me at my wits end calling my husband at work and begging him to come home, my days spent without him while he was in the NICU, passing him across the table in a restaurant resulting in my drink being spilled all over me and everything else while we joked/ cried that we could be a walking advertisement for birth control and condoms, and other people.

Yeah my biggest upset from my son's time as an infant definitely came from other people. If you have children you may understand where I'm coming from and if you don't well, let me illuminate you. Yes there was the mountain of unsolicited advice that irritated the hell out of me.. He's dressed too warm, he's dressed too light, why isn't he wearing a hat? But through all of that I was able to just grin and bear it and most of the time use the pediatrician as my excuse. That really wasn't the worst of it though, for some reason people forget that babies are people. Everyone, most without even asking, would touch him, pet his head, grab at his hands and feet, want to hold him, and I'm not talking about family members here, no. Complete strangers would come up to us in the grocery store and start fawning all over him almost as if me and my husband weren't there. Would those same people even dare to do that to an adult? My guess is no, and if you try to fend them off even politely they look at you like you are the worst human being in the world. I don't know who these people are, I have no obligation to allow them to place their more likely than not germ infested hands all over my newborn simply because they think he's cute.

Of course that doesn't even cover the rude or inappropriate remarks I had to endure. While clothes shopping an elderly woman looked me up and down with a look of pure disgust and proceeded to tell me she hoped I was a good mother to deserve a baby as cute as mine. Then there was the time my husband and I were in a thrift store and our son was crying. We were simply talking to him trying to calm him down and I believe I said "I know, it's been a long day. First the Dr's office, then the grocery store and now we're here don't worry after this we're going home" and another elderly women piped up in a judgmental tone "I hope you fed him during all of that" Who gave them permission to pass judgment and comment on my life, or even listen in on and involve themselves in a private conversation I was having with my family, simply because we had a baby in tow.

Lately all of this seems especially relevant because it doesn't seem to end. He's 5 now and people still think it's okay to approach us and have full conversations with my son, without ever addressing me or my husband. Am I the only one that finds this inappropriate? Just because he's small and young does not mean he doesn't have the right to personal space. We have an elderly couple that lives downstairs with the wife being the worst offender of this and I've tried to be polite but there comes a time when enough is enough. Last week she asked if she could give him some cookies, I told her no, he had a snack with him and it was almost 4 o' clock, we'd be having dinner in an hour. She ignored me and asked again, so my husband spoke up and said no thank you he's all set. Then a third time she asked yet again, "What you don't want him to have any cookies" again we told her no and throughout all of this my son who was the subject of the discussion was trying to get past us to get in the house and showed absolutely no interest in what she was offering. After firmly telling her no for a third time she waited until she thought we were out of earshot before she said "well maybe he's too good for them". I'm sorry but are we bound by law to allow strange people to give my son sugar?? Is it wrong that I don't want him filling up on junk food an hour before dinner especially when he just had a bowl full of blueberries as a snack. I really don't think so. She sees him coming up the stairs and she clicks her tongue at him like she's trying to get the attention of an animal. Or there was the time she asked him to dance for her and "shake his fanny". How can she not see that as vastly inappropriate??

All I ever hear from other people are that their intentions are good, I shouldn't let it bother me because they mean well. Why are their intentions more important that my or my family's comfort level, or my son's personal space? They aren't and honestly I do not believe that they have good intentions. They have self-serving intentions. Their advances are wildly unwelcome which I make very clear and they ignore me and proceed anyways. All they care about is being entertained by a cute child.

For those out there that behave this way I have a message for you. No child no matter how cute, or how small, or how delightfully innocent owes you a damned thing. Not hugs, not conversation, not high-fives, not a performance. You do not have the right to force them into a relationship with you simply because you have deemed it okay. Also touching, especially with infants, is dangerous because they have barely-there immune systems and even if you are not sick because you have the immune system of an adult you may be carrying some type of virus on your hands that you are not even aware of. Never touch a child you are not related to in public and no, asking does not make it okay because that is inappropriate and an invasion of privacy too. If you really feel the need to make some kind of connection smile and wave then move on with your life.

I'm seriously thinking of getting a "no touching" sign for the new babies carrier, not that I'm sure that it would do any good to deter people but that's not going to stop me from trying. I don't care how bitchy and anti-social I seem to the outside world. I'm not going to undermine, my or my sons or new baby's comfort level, personal and space and safety simply to keep a complete stranger happy. My children have the right to be treated as human beings, not performing animals.

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