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A Baby's Personal Space

Today when I was waiting for a prescription to be filled at the grocery store, I wanted to avoid spending an extra $60 on groceries we didn't need, so I opted to wait at the front of the store where I would not be tempted by sales or all the Halloween candy that was calling my name. 

While I was waiting, I was approached by a nice woman who was clearly an employee of the store, who was manning a display by the front doors. She made small talk and was telling me how cute my children were, and how crazy I was for carrying my daughter in her car seat that must have weighed fifty pounds. (Full disclosure: if I knew I would be waiting around the store, I would have brought the stroller, because carrying a baby in a car seat while chasing after a toddler can be pretty tough).

While we were chatting, she looks at my baby, and gives her the 'coochy coo' baby talk, and reaches down to tickle her cheeks. I just backed up and side stepped to grab my toddler, who was within arms reach but just starting to look like she was about to start wandering, so it was a great excuse for me to pull my baby away from these stranger's tickles. 

I really don't mean to be rude, which is why I didn't say anything at the time, but even though she was a nice woman, and worked at the store I was in, I didn't know her. I didn't know how many hands she had shaken that day, or if she just came back from using the washroom and didn't wash her hands, or maybe she was fighting off a cold - I had zero knowledge of who this person was up until five minutes before she touched my baby's face.

I have never reached to touch another baby I don't know. Even babies whos parents I do know, I still ask before I have any physical contact with them, because, well, you never know. I made a new friend recently and she brought her child over for a play date. The mother had to leave the room, and the baby started screaming, but this was not my child, so I simply yelled "Is it okay if I pick her up?" before picking up her baby to help calm her down. Unless somebody deliberately says "Can you please take care of my child", I don't see why there is any reason (except in an emergency) that we should need to touch somebody else's child - it's easy enough to ask. 

I am pretty protective of my personal space and get very uncomfortable when people get in my 'bubble' (obviously with exclusions of people like my husband and my kids), so maybe that is where my thoughts stem from, but any stranger reaching out to touch my face would probably get slapped, so why would it be okay for them to touch my child's face?

At what age does it become inappropriate to touch a stranger? There is a campaign on social media right now that is focused on raising awareness for sexual harassment. Obviously this is more serious than an older lady innocently touching a baby's face, but hear me out... If it was a middle aged man touching a teenage girls face, most people would argue that that would be grounds for harassment - so my question stands: at what point does touching a stranger become okay? In my opinion, there is no reason anybody should touch a stranger, especially one who can't speak for themselves or defend themselves, at anytime other than an emergency or if you ask first.

I am not saying that this woman sexually harassed my child - that would be crazy, because she really was just innocently tickling a baby's adorable chubby cheeks. But aside from getting in somebody's personal space, some people (those with immune diseases, and babies for example) are more likely to develop a serious illness from a small bug that would otherwise be harmless to an adult. So here is my plea to everybody who has thought about getting in anybody's personal bubble: 

Stop. Think. Ask. 

If you want to touch somebody: Stop before you do it. Think about why you want to do it. Ask if it's okay first...

If you see somebody who looks like they might need a hug, ask if you can give them a hug.

If you see a baby who's cheeks are unbelievably adorable and you just need to pinch them, ask their caregiver first.

If you see a child who is having troubles tying their shoe, look around to ask their caregiver first then ask the child if you can help. 

It's pretty simple, I tell it to my kids all the time: "If it's not yours, don't touch." 

There are so many reasons you should not touch strangers, like health reasons (passing around diseases, germs, and who knows what else), getting in peoples personal space... Please, just don't. There is no reason for it, unless of course there is a reason for it, like an emergency. If my child is about to run in front of a car, please stop her, but if my child is not in danger, and/or you have not asked me first, please don't touch. 

Who else feels that their personal bubble extends to their children? Where do you draw the line?


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