Monday, December 01, 2008

What Gives? (a rant)

Greetings faithful checker inners, as you may have noticed this past month has been a bit sporadic. It turns out that when I'm not in the office I also get out of the habit of posting. In my final weeks here at Christ Lutheran I hope to be more consistent in sharing my thoughts, including a few reflections on the transition process.

For today, I would like to ask, "What gives?"

In a world that is hyper sensitive to child safety, especially in terms of touch, sexuality, and abduction issues, why does it seem socially appropriate for complete and total strangers to come up and touch my child? For those of you I don't know, please don't touch my child. He is the single most precious thing in my life and I don't where your hands have been, what you are going to do to my child, so please don't touch him. Am I allowed to touch and tickle you in return? This last weekend while at a wedding reception I had someone with the audacity to come up behind me, without me knowing it, and reach around in front of me to touch my child. Then when I went to go change his diaper I literally had people chasing after me to touch my baby. Oh, and did I mention I have never met these people, they never introduced themselves or anything. I might have been arrested if I had touched them the way they touched my child, yet it's supposed to be OK for them.

A few weeks ago we were at a pastors conference and a woman I had never seen before in my life came up to me and said, "Can I hold your baby so it's not a burden for you to eat." OK, first of all I don't know you and you asked in such a way that I feel rude for saying, "No." Second of all I REALLY love spending time with my son and it is in no way a burden to have him with me as I eat. If I don't get to eat as much, I end up eating cold food, or I struggle to eat it is well worth that price to be able to hold my son. There is NOTHING better in the world.

Honestly, I don't get it. I am on the verge of snapping (OK, I'm sure a number of you feel I already have, but I don't think I'm quite there yet). If we were the only parents in the world experiencing this I might be able to chalk it up to something like having the cutest baby in the world (which we just might have), but I'm pretty sure this is not a unique experience. So what gives? Why has this kind of behavior been allowed to flourish?

My child is the single most important thing in the world and he is at the most vulnerable stage of his life, so if I don't know you please keep your distance. If I know you and we have a relationship, then I most certainly am willing to share with you the most amazing boy in the world.


Pastor Julia said...


I'm very sympathetic to your problem, though I do not yet have children. People see babies as "community property" and don't seem to understand that a parent resisting that idea is NOT over-protective, but rational and sensible. Children are NOT community property. It may well take a village... but not everyone gets to touch the infant.

And you're right that it is amazing in that people, in an age very serious concern about safety and children, don't seem to grasp this concept.

Rant away, brother! And don't doubt yourself. You know what's best AND safest (!!) for your child!

Anonymous said...

I have three kids, all teenagers now. I still remember how irked I was when my MIL handed my first infant to a complete stranger when we were shopping at Penney's. I nearly went postal. Strangely with subsequent kids, this feeling totally passed and I truly appreciated someone taking the baby off my hands for a few minutes so I could eat, go to the bathroom, deal with the other kids,etc. Did that mean I didn't love them as much or that I was no longer a good, vigilant parent interested in my child's well being and safety? Absolutely not. I have an idea that this feeling will pass for you too, particularly if you have other kids, and someday you'll be one of the rest of us who sees an infant and is drawn back to the days you're living now and simply wants a little touch of a baby hand or the feel of baby soft skin or the smell of a baby to bring back that wonderful, unique feeling of being a first time parent. I know there are people who can be a little inappropriate, but they generally mean well. By the way, there's nothing like a stubborn toddler throwing a few temper tantrums to help this feeling pass. Your son will become his own little person and you'll naturally draw back a little so that he doesn't end up being one of those kids with paralyzing separation anxiety. Then someday he'll go to college!!

pb said...

Honestly? I don't mind sharing my child (most of the time) as long as it's with someone I know. Heck, if they ask permission or give a little warning even that's appreciated. There have even been a few people who you could tell were dying to interact, touch, or hold him but fought their urges to keep their distance. Those people we've been OK with their interactions.

I'm sure you're right it will change some over time. However, I have always been one who loves babies & kids and just love interacting with them. However, I have resisted touching, grabbing, etc. because I know that it is Mom & Dad's precious cargo and not mine. I may change, who knows? I guess only time will tell.