You see a cute girl across the food court at your local mall. I mean, she’s really cute. You can’t stop looking at her because she’s so cute. Everything about her oozes cute, from the sweet headband holding back her wispy hair, to the delicate smile that spreads easily across her face every time someone speaks to her, to the lovely outfit she’s wearing that reminds you of something right off the pages of an American Girl catalogue. This girl is ADORABLE. So what do you do?
A) Admire her from afar. She’s in the middle of a meal and you don’t want to disturb her.
B) Chat her up. Sure, you’re interrupting her meal, but you just HAVE to say something.
C) Walk right up to her and touch her face. And her hands. And her feet.
I would imagine the majority of you pictured my mystery girl to be an adult. In that case, I hope you picked A or B as your answer. If you picked C, you’re weird. That brings me to my point. If you think it is unequivocally, inarguably weird to go up to a complete stranger and touch her face, then why do you think it is perfectly acceptable to touch my baby without first asking permission?
Seriously, get the hell away from my stroller! I don’t know you. I don’t know when you last washed your hands. I don’t know if you had a spicy tuna hand roll for lunch and whether your fingertips are still stained with Sriracha sauce. I don’t know if you’re a chronic nail biter with bacteria-infested open wounds in your nail beds. I don’t know if you politely covered your mouth when you sneezed ten minutes ago. I hope you did, but that means I don’t want your snotty hands all over my baby’s face. I know nothing about your hygiene habits and I have no interest in learning that they are lacking via the cold you may have just passed along to my baby. So back away from my stroller!
Maybe I’m being a little melodramatic, but then again, my baby is teething and spends most of the day sucking on her hands to alleviate some of the pain. That means whatever is on your hands when you touch her is going into her mouth before I have time to fish the anti-bacterial wipes out of my diaper bag.
I recently thought I might be overreacting on this issue when I asked a woman at a fast food restaurant who reached for my baby’s face with her greasy French fried fingers to stand back. She was beyond offended that I would deny her the inherent right of old ladies everywhere to pinch my daughter’s cheeks and she cursed at me like I was the inconsiderate one. (Side note: Please don’t curse at me for petty B.S. in front of my baby). So when I went home, I ran a quick Internet search on the phrase “don’t touch my baby” and Google tacked on the word “sign” to the end of my phrase. Sign? I clicked. And I learned there are moms out there that not only share my viewpoint but let their colors fly on their little ones’ strollers via signs requesting that strangers keep their hands to themselves.
Bottom line: the issue here isn’t just one of germophobia. It’s etiquette. Babies are people too. They deserve to be treated with respect just as any other person does, and I hope we can all agree that wandering around the mall touching people without their permission is not very respectful. It’s actually kind of creepy. And, in the words of my husband, “creepy is the stink you can’t wash off.”
If you really can’t adopt a “look-don’t touch” approach when you see babies out in the wild, then please, for the love of all neurotic mamas out there trying to protect their young, go wash your hands!