I come from a culture where it’s okay to touch other people’s children’s faces and tell them how you cute and chubby they are. Growing up my face got touched a lot. My heightened sense of needing space, my irritability and introvertedness probably have something to do with that. I hated my own face and for the longest time I hated my cheeks. Somehow there was this belief among them that my chubby cheeks entitled them to pinch me, often so hard that I would burst into painful tears or swear to cross the road when I see them next. I would’ve crossed the road if I knew how to walk and eventually when I learned to be on my own, I did cross the road… In fact I crossed several oceans just to get away from people who invade my sacred space.
I wish someone would stand up for me, you know parents, family and the like. But this is not a post about how I blame my family for never saying no to those morons.
This is a post about me as a parent. The grown-up, yet-to-be-parent in me would swear that nobody would ever come close to my kids, unlike my “cheeky” childhood.
The pregnant me was always scared of people touching my bump, petrified of the “touching” stories I would hear from others. Thankfully there wasn’t a hideous situation like that. Of course there was a barrage of questions- unnecessary questions, stupid questions, invasion-of-privacy questions, most of which I dealt with humor but that’s another post.
Then came baby. And with that came a fretful mom who somehow was not being able to maintain the standards she once set for herself.
We were at the local greenhouse when a warty old guy came and said what a sweet baby and touched my 4 month old’s fingers with his muddy gnarly ones. I smiled, I liked that guy and I love his flowers and J seemed to enjoy his time at the garden. Who was I to say no?
Then came the “aw-cute-baby” nudges, and hand holds and threats of pinches from Facebook. They came one by one as older ladies who would cross the street to see his face, the Indian gentleman at Sunday’s brunch, the law school student in Harvard Square. And part of me swelled with a little mommy pride and part of me cringed at the thought of being touched by someone else. The rest of me laughed at myself.