Is it Ever Okay to Touch a Strangers Baby?
I can just hear the ‘PC’ police reading that headline and having a stroke. God that phrasing’s not much better either is it! Clearly my mind is in the gutter today! What I’m trying to say, ever so in-eloquently is, how do you feel when a well-meaning stranger comes over to coo at your baby and then proceeds to touch their cheek or hand in a gesture that is completely benign, but can come across a little over-familiar?
It’s something I would never have thought about until I had a baby myself, but Jesus Christ is my son a complete granny magnet? It’s as if he emits some kind of finely tuned grandma-catnip from his pores which they can sniff out from 100 paces. I’ve watched women of a certain age literally change course in the middle of their shopping to make a beeline for my pram, smiles getting wider the closer they get to his chubby cheeks and deep blue eyes.
And of course he plays along. He is a complete charmer, especially when it comes to grannies. They look in and coo something like ‘oh new baby?’ or ‘oh a boy is it?’ and he unleashes his supermodel style eyelashes and gummy grin complete with delicious dimple on each side of his cheek and they become absolute putty in his portly hands.
Now don’t get me wrong, it is lovely when people come over to admire your baby. You feel this intense sense of pride and it is just incredible how this little bundle of cuteness can bring such overwhelming and pure joy to complete strangers, who’d normally look straight through you if you were out on your own. But as much as I enjoy showing by baby off and chatting about him, what I really have come to despise is when said stranger proceeds to touch his cheek or hand or even put his soother back in, as one women decided to do. I remember when it happened the first time, watching this friendly lady’s hand moving down almost in slow motion toward the pram where my giggling baby lay and thinking something like ‘er, no, don’t touch my child please!’ I stood there slack-jawed and watched as she touched his cheek, while he continued to giggle lapping up the attention like a giddy cocker spaniel with her whispering nonsense at him. I thought ‘God maybe I know this woman and I’m having a baby brain moment? Is she one of my mums friends maybe? I’m not good with names so maybe I just forgot who she is?’ My rambling thoughts were cut off mid flow becasue as quickly as it happened she was gone, leaving me open-mouthed and confused. ‘Is this a thing?’ I thought. ‘I mean is it okay to just go over and rub a baby’s cheek once you’re spouting compliments at them?’
It’s something I would never have done before becoming a mum and now that I am a mum, I still wouldn’t go ahead and touch a stranger’s child. But it got me thinking, is this PC nonsense gone mad? Am I just being over-protective? No I don’t think I am. I just don’t think it’s appropriate to touch a stranger’s child no matter how well meaning they may be. And before you start thinking oh she’s one of those mums that’s a bit too fond of the hand sanitiser, let me stop you there, because right before I wrote this blog, my king Charles was licking my baby boys hands which then proceeded to pop into his mouth, so it’s definitely not a germ thing. It’s not an over-the-top sense of political correctness either; I’m not one of those people who would freak out about a parent taking a picture of their child or children enjoying a bubble bath for the family album as some kind of attempt at child pornography. I’m also not someone who minds family and friends holding my baby son or playing with him, or bringing him for a spin in the pram. Indeed, at his christening I think the poor child was dizzy from being passed around so much!
No I think what gets me peeved about it, is the sense that it’s an invasion of privacy and the assumption that anyone can go ahead and touch your child once the intention is good. Maybe a ‘look but don’t touch approach’ should apply when it comes to admiring a stranger’s baby?