The Baby Pokers and Their Itchy Fingers
Why do people feel an inherent need to touch my baby? Well, not just my baby, but any baby they don’t personally know for that matter. I mean, I know Nathan is all cute and stuff with his cute chubby cheeks and cute little baby grunts, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok for a stranger to just reach out and touch him. Not too long ago, Paul and I were at Wal-Mart… I had Nathan tucked securely in his Snugli (his baby carrier) in the hopes that no one would have the gumption to cross that unspoken boundary and touch my child.
When we first walked in, immediately, I mean so immediately that I hardly had time to exhale the warm air of the outside that filled my lungs, an old man working the door reached out with a grimy, dirty hand and attempted to poke… poke!… my son. Who on earth pokes a baby anyway? I don’t like to be poked and I’m adult. I can imagine how a poke must annoy babies, who are usually very easy to annoy in the first place. So in the split second it took for his outstretched finger to zip through the air, zooming towards my son, I looked down and saw the gunk under his unkempt fingernails and managed to dodge his poke at the last possible millisecond.
Surely no one would be so brazen again, right? I mean, what are the odds of it happening twice?
Apparently, the odds are very high. Not ten minutes after I thwarted the poking incident, a nicely dressed and well manicured lady popped up out of nowhere (Seriously! First there was thin air, then there was a nicely dressed and well manicured lady!) and started making light conversation about my son. I attempted in vain to keep some distance between us. Then, like a scene from a horror movie, her manicured hand reached out with lightening speed and jingling bracelets and she rubbed my baby’s head. Like he’s a bottle and a genie is just going to pop out of him and grant three magic wishes. I wanted to say something to her about not touching my baby and how he won’t spew forth a wish-granting magic genie, but I didn’t have the heart. She had a huge, goofy grin on her face and was gushing on and on about her grandson (even though I swear she didn’t look old enough to even be my mother.) I could tell touching Nathan’s head had made her day. Who am I to take that from someone? For all I know, maybe her dog was killed by a rogue go-cart or her pinkie toe was chopped off last week and she didn’t have any ice to put it on so now she is a young, dogless, pinkie toe-less grandmother who goes around and rubs random babies’ heads for good luck. I can’t just take away someone else’s happiness and eat it as my own. But what can you do? How can you stop people from touching your baby?
And it’s flu season… a sick person is contagious 24 hours before the first onset of symptoms. My mom told me a story about my little brother being three months old with the flu. Then I caught the flu. Then she caught the flu. And Dad couldn’t stay home from work, so my flu-mom had to take care of her flu-daughter and her infant flu-son, and she was so sick that she couldn’t even get out of bed so she had to bring her flu-daughter and her flu-son to bed with her where we all cried in misery. Then my brother developed a nasty case of pneumonia. No, I don’t want to go through that.
And I am also curious as to why people take offense that I carry around Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and disinfect surfaces in which my son will be coming into contact. Like the plastic patient bed in the pediatrician’s office. Or the table at a restaurant. Seriously, those places are Germ City. I saw on that show The Doctors that restaurants are in the top five health hazards because of all the bacteria and germs on tables, condiment containers, and those little vibrating thingys that let you know you’re ready to be seated. Hospitals are like the number one health hazard followed by carts in grocery stores and the equipment in gyms. So whenever I disinfect surfaces my son will be touching (because he touches everything with his mouth,) people look at me like, that crazy mother, doesn’t she realize babies need germs to build their immune system? And I look at them back like, Will you come over and help me with my sick baby, let him vomit all over your clothes, clean up his diarrhea, and try to console someone who just can’t stop screaming? Oh, you don’t want to? You sure about that? Because you’re looking at me like you would just LOVE to.
Once Nathan’s immune system ages somewhat and becomes more efficient as he consumes my antibodies via breastfeeding, it won’t be as big of a problem. But he’s so young now that if he were to get sick, the risk of complications developing is simply too high. My motto has always been better safe than sorry. I know he will inevitably get sick. It’s part of life. But there is no sense in “playing with fire” and taking unnecessary risks while he’s still an infant. So how can I politely tell the Baby Pokers and their fingers that are itching to touch my son that no touching is allowed?