When People Get Weird With Babies & Toddlers
My family and I were at church this past Sunday, and we were all asked to say good morning to the people around us. We did, and then I noticed a woman making a very fast beeline for us. And that was my first clue that some weird stuff was about to go down. She came up to me and said “I actually came here just to meet this young man” and leaned towards my baby. Well, she gets points for honesty right? She doesn’t know me. She doesn’t know my baby. But she just wants to say hi. That would have been just fine. Except that as I turned around to face the rest of my family I felt a light pull, and turned back around to see that she was now holding my baby’s hand. The hand that he had JUST been gumming in his mouth. Sometimes, when people pull weird crap like this, it takes a moment for my brain to catch up. When it did, I smiled (with very gritted teeth) at her, gently pried her hand off of his hand, and shifted him to my other hip away from her. And immediately sat down and sanitized his hand before he jammed it back into his mouth. At the end of the day, if Mom’s uncomfortable then intent doesn’t really matter in my book. Anyway, so after I wrote my post on rules for visiting a new baby, some readers’ responses inspired me to write a post about how weird and entitled people can get with other people’s babies and toddlers. So here is a list of what NOT to do or say regarding someone else’s kids 😉
1) “Oh he’s fine, crying is good for their lungs!” or “She’s just faking”, and “He isn’t really hurt or suffering. I just got him!” Let’s address these one by one shall we? To start, WHY do some people act like they know OUR babies or toddlers better than WE do? It’s like, hello I’m their mother! I grew and carried this baby for 9 very long months. I brought this baby into the world. I am with them every single day. And night! I would obviously know my child the best. I don’t care if YOU think crying is good for their lungs, I’m not a fan of him crying unnecessarily when I’m standing right here! And ya know what? It’s not up to you to determine if my kid is “faking” or not. And you wouldn’t really know if they were anyway! Unless you’re their parent, I highly doubt you’re capable of determining this. And for the record, babies don’t really understand how to “fake cry” yet. Lastly, it’s not and never will be, up to you to determine if my child is suffering. Because guess what? They are MY children. And I don’t give a hairy rat’s ass if you JUST got to hold my baby (not a huge fan of “pass the baby” anyway, as it usually overwhelms them and I get handed back a fussy, overstimulated and panicked baby), if he’s crying: Hand. Him. Back.
2) “You’ll spoil that baby if you hold her that much/comfort her right away/always breastfeed her when she’s upset”. Well I guess that will be MY problem then, right? Also, I don’t remember asking you for your opinion anyway? And for me personally, I held and nursed and comforted my baby girl on demand and she is a super independent toddler now! To the point that she will actually tell me “I’m playing Mommy, make dinner please?” Yeah. She speaks her mind and I applaud her for it. So no, she won’t be spoiled, she’ll feel assured that her parent will be there for her! And again, not your problem if that’s not the case.
3) Please for all that is holy, do NOT reach for my baby or attempt to take him out of my arms. This one is for the strangers out there (when it’s regarding family and friends doing this, I would just encourage you to please ask first instead of grab first). I’ve found that this is a weird & entitled thing I’ve noticed some people do. So far it hasn’t happened with my son yet, but I cannot tell you how many times this happened with my daughter. And it’s like, REALLY?! My baby isn’t a toy that I just randomly decided not to share during play time. Why the hell would I randomly pass her over? I don’t know you, my baby doesn’t know you. And your double clap maneuver followed by eager outstretched arms is only creeping me out that much more. And the fact that you actually THINK I’d just be like “yeah take them, I need a break”, simply boggles my mind. Now, there is a huge difference if the MOM feels comfortable with said stranger, or asks for help holding their child. When I was 9 months pregnant I sometimes had a hard time lifting my 34 pound toddler into her car seat, and one time a helpful stranger asked if they could help and I was really appreciative. Key word was “asked”, in that scenario.
4) Again for the strangers: please do not try to feed my baby or toddler without asking. This one drives me up the wall!! And I don’t mind if people ASK. Right? What I do mind, however, is when a random stranger tries to FEED my baby or toddler. (This has happened a few times, someone tried feeding my daughter a cookie out of their purse, another time it was a sucker trying to be shoved into her mouth as I was paying my groceries. Ridiculous!) How do you know if my kid isn’t allergic? And I realize that the person is probably trying to be nice. But what ever happened to asking?! I have a lot of mom friends and belong to various mom and child groups, and NO ONE offers food or drinks to another person’s kid without asking. It’s just common courtesy!
5) Please don’t say my children look “nothing” like me. Now this might seem petty to some people, but I personally am not a fan of hearing that my kids look “nothing” like me. It’s the “nothing” that gets me. I get that the person saying this is probably saying it in jest. But guess what? My husband isn’t the one who had severe morning sickness for 9 weeks straight to the point of only being able to eat 4 meal options. He isn’t the one who got poked and prodded for numerous blood draws when gestational diabetes was in question. He wasn’t the one who got up to pee every hour at night for the last trimester. He isn’t the one who either pushed out a baby or had serious abdominal surgery to have a baby.
6) Do not talk to my kids when you’re really talking to me. I’ll give you an example: “Aren’t you cold? Tell Mommy to put a jacket on you!” Or “Did Mommy give you lunch? You must be so hungry!” Yeah… I’m standing literally right here. Why don’t YOU act like an adult and tell ME if you feel like you have something to say. I can assure you that my baby is just going to stare at you and give you a big gummy smile, and that’s it. Now, my toddler will probably give you an answer, but these days it will either make sense, or be something completely random like when she told our mail man “Run! The bear’s going to eat you!” (No idea).
At the end of the day, I think most people really do mean well. Or at less I hope they do. And I think people generally just get really excited when they see a cute baby or a toddler, and sometime they don’t think “This mom and baby don’t know me, and I am actually a stranger”. Because no one really thinks of themselves as a “stranger”, right? Anyway, parents, keep sticking to your gut and do what feels right! As always, you’ve got this Mama!