From the moment my cute baby bump appeared when I was pregnant with my first son, it seemed unwanted strangers were approaching me everywhere I went. I had both ladies and gentlemen (although I associate the term "gentlemen" with polite, so maybe we’ll just say, “men”) come up to my belly and talk to it, rub it, and during one incredibly uncomfortable encounter, one lady even tried to kiss it!
I dealt with the uneasiness of trying to figure out how to respond to people who were being kind or doting upon me, but making me very uncomfortable or uneasy. I needed to know how to do so in a firm way, politely, but also so that I got my point across.
Now that I have two boys, I run into this problem even more, and consequently,
have to figure out new ways to address it frequently. Caleb is almost 3.
Although I’m biased as his mother, I'd say he is one of the cutest little blonde-haired, blue-eyed flirty boys ever. He grins at everyone in the supermarket, he bats his long eyelashes at bank tellers, and he chatters at sales clerks.
Jacob is 8 months old, and probably the plumpest, baldest little Buddha baby you will ever meet. He has chubby cheeks that are irresistibly pinchable, two bottom teeth with a huge gummy grin, and big, chunky thighs. So really it’s pretty unrealistic to expect people not to approach either of my children, but sometimes it makes me uncomfortable. And those situations are what I need to be prepared for.
The other day, I was shopping at Schnucks with both boys. I had Jake in the front
section of my cart and Caleb walking next to the cart holding the side. Often
the kids will get smiles and “hellos” from passersby in the store, and that is
completely normal. But on this particular occasion, a woman came up and started interacting with them. She inquired as to how old each of them were, and I told her. Then she started making faces at Jake to see if she could get him to smile. He burst into little baby giggles, and she was pleased with herself, but wanted more. So she started tickling him. This was when I became a bit uncomfortable.
I do not personally like strangers touching my children, and this is a personal preference of mine. Others may be comfortable with it. After a few seconds of tickling him, I kindly said that we were in a hurry and needed to finish up our shopping. At the time it was the only excuse I could think of to get out of the situation.
Not long after that, in the same store, I was standing in the checkout line.
The man behind me was an older gentleman, and was playfully making gestures with Caleb, making him giggle and hide behind my leg. Upon seeing Jake, much to my surprise, the man asked if he could hold the baby.
I had not been in a situation like this before, so was not sure how to handle it. We were standing idle in line, so I was trapped, and could not make an excuse about needing to leave. As visions of my baby falling and cracking his little head on the floor danced through my head, I decided I needed to be honest. I told the man that I just did not feel comfortable with that. But I tried to compromise. I just
changed the subject after that and said, “He is cute, isn’t he?” and pointed out
some of Jake’s features so we could look at him (without touching) from afar.
This leads to my question: How do you draw the boundary line with strangers and your children?