“Don’t touch my son!” Those were my husband’s exact words to this little old lady as she went in for the kill, with her arms outstretched, reaching towards our baby with her face contorted into a mixture of a smile and a grimace. A frequent dilemma that we seem to face is strangers wanting to touch, pick up and/or kiss our child. It doesn’t matter the race, age or educational background of the person, although they all seem to be of the female persuasion, they share this common need to throw regular decorum to the wind when it comes to a cute little baby. How do you effectively keep people from grabbing at your child without offending or hurting someone’s feelings? I still haven’t figured this one out.
Now my husband on the other hand, who was born and raised in the Bronx, couldn’t possibly care less about being perceived as rude when people attempt to touch our child. He has decided that subtlety doesn’t work and a strong offense is the best defense. In other words, tell them to back off! When our son was about 3 to 5 months old, we would venture out into the world to a restaurant or to church, in efforts to maintain some semblance of normalcy in our lives. It was during these excursions when we quickly learned that people feel obligated to grab for your child, especially babies. Due to our newness to the parenthood world, we would kind of sit back in silence and shock and watch the madness unfold. However, as paranoid new parents who have become one with hand sanitizer, we would both panic after a surprise attack of “baby touch and rub” from a stranger.
In efforts to avoid these situations we tried to outsmart the perpetrators. We would attempt different strategical tactics to avoid an unwelcome head rub or grab. For example, we would position him between us at breakfast to block out unwanted attention. However, the waitress would lean over our table or slide into the booth with us to successfully rub the baby’s head and grab his hands. And we all know where baby’s hands end up every five seconds; in their mouths. Also, we tried turning and holding the baby away from the stranger in order to prevent a surprise attack; using our bodies as a barrier, but this move was often thwarted by the double blind attack. This occurs when one individual distracts you from the front while talking about childcare and the pleasures of parenthood and once you are completely relieved that they don’t want to touch your child, a friend or second stranger sneaks in from the back to touch the baby’s face and hands. It is very difficult to see this one coming.
The one incident that sent my husband over the edge from friendly diversions to complete bluntness when dealing with these situations occurred when he brought my son to meet me at work one Saturday morning. I was finishing up with my last patient whom I had been working with for quite awhile and I had developed quite a rapport with him and his wife. His wife was very excited to meet my son because I talk about him all the time and she is a proud grandmother herself. Well, my husband walks in with my son, who I must say looked extremely cute in his overalls and baseball cap. He proceeded to introduce our baby to my co-worker , the patient and his wife when the ambush began! I am talking full-out quarterback blitz in the 4th quarter, on the fourth down with 5 seconds to go in the game! The wife reaches in, grabs my son and proceeds to cover his face in kisses! Yes, you heard me correctly; KISSES and she didn’t so much as look at a jar of hand sanitizer! Once he gets over the initial shock, my husband reaches for our son and the wife fakes left, then right and follows up with a swift “He doesn’t want to go to you right now” and proceeds to cover him with more kisses. My husband is finally able to grab our son and we both walk away defeated and shocked, but that was the day my he decided that he wasn’t going to take it anymore.
Needless to say, I still have difficulty telling people not to touch my child because I know they are just expressing their compliments on the cute baby that we have, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I wish I could just walk down the aisles with the baby in my right arm and my left arm extended taking out invaders as they approach, but I can’t. So, I have just resorted to carrying baby wipes, hand sanitizer, soap and tissues wherever I go in an effort to be ready to quickly clean up the mess from our different encounters. But, on days when I just don’t feel like being passive about the situation, I bring along my secret weapon; the stealth bomber of the unwanted baby ambush-MY HUSBAND.