Friday, February 5, 2010

Really, someone explain to me why anyone would think it's OK to touch a complete stranger's baby.

Because I've been struggling to come up with a rationale that would make such personally offensive behavior acceptable in another's mind, and I've been spending the last day trying to come up with an appropriate response or reaction to such imposition on my and my baby's personal space.

Now of course Cayden attracts lots of comments and coos from strangers when we're out, but that's as far as anyone had ever gone, until yesterday. I'd heard of stranger-baby-touching happening to others, but I never really thought much about it because it just seems to me so, how do you say, who-the-flock-would-ever-do-that. Really, just outside my realm of possibility because people just. can't. be. that. ignorant.

But oh, how I was proven wrong at the best (or worst) place for such a lesson -- the one store that spans the social and educational stratosphere to attract all kinds -- Walmart.

So there we are, stuck in the check-out line that is naturally taking FOREVER because the woman at the register can't figure out how to pay, when an overly friendly man and his wife push their cart right up behind me. But since I had gone around to the front of the cart in hopes of someday unloading my groceries on the belt, they had front-row access to Cayden in his little cart cozy.

And then the man starts talking -- well, really more like squawking and yelling -- at my baby. My poor, unprotected baby, who had no idea what to think of this in-your-face moron. I'm immediately uncomfortable, but I think to myself, "I'm sure he means no harm, he just wants to talk to the cute kid. I mean, SURELY he sees that I'm a mother concerned about germs and the big bad world, because, you know -- MY BABY IS IN A CART COZY. And besides, what am I supposed to do now? Dart back around the cart to intercept this stranger's misguided baby attention, thereby making myself look like a paranoid -- and perhaps racist -- overprotective, overbearing mother?"

So I smile uncomfortably back at the stranger, who must have taken my ass-cheeks-squeezed-tighter-together-than-a-vice grin as encouragement. Because then he started TOUCHING my baby. First his sock. Whew, no real harm there. Then, oh no -- he's grabbing his hands. And finally, holy mother of God he's actually squeezing my kid's cheeks!!

I was floored. Speechless. Frozen in place and completely bewildered. Until finally the douchebag "I can't figure out how to pay for my groceries" woman got through the check-out, so I could unload my groceries on the belt and get back around the cart.

Just in time for this asshat's attention to scare Cayden enough to make him start wailing in the cart. So I swipe him up and carry him the rest of the way through check out. And the whole time this guy behind me is still talking in funny voices at my kid, completely ignoring the fact that HE MADE THE BABY CRY.

Ew, ew, eeeeew, ew ew. Yesterday afternoon was a lesson in simple idiocy of greater humanity.

So, please: I welcome comments on both sides of the aisle. What makes a stranger think it's OK to touch a baby, and what the hell do you do when you find your baby the target of a (creepy) stranger's attention?

'Cause I'm at a loss.

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