How not to greet at child

Pet peeve of today: People that make me see giant AMBER alert signs and causes visions of child abduction in my mind.

We all know them. We’ve all had to face them. The complete strangers that come up to you on the street, at the supermarket, postoffice what have you, and tries to engage your child, stroke their cheek or even worse, pick them up.

Dear sir/mam, You are currently invading my child’s personal space and he does not approve of your action. Please refrain from such activities in the future.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never actually said that out loud even though I’ve often wanted to. Instead my answers include blank stares, no, just walking away or the juvenile versions of “Hell no” or “fucktard”. I do apologize but I’m pretty sure I’ve used the latter expressions at least once.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a pretty laid back person (most times), but as everybody else I have my pet peeves and one of them is people who do not know how to greet a child. Last holiday season I wrote an open letter which I never ended up publishing but it went a little something like this:

Dear sir/mam,

Holiday season is upon us again and this is the time when people often want to share their love with others and the “christmas spirit”. All too often it includes a lot of strangers (people we do not yet know) wanting to say hello to junior, especially when we are outside. Junior is very cute and very flirty when he wants to be but also has very clear limits on what and who he allows into his personal space. Therefore please be advised that a no is always a no, wether it’s him shaking his head or actually saying no. That means “back off, you’re invading my personal space and I do not appreciate it”. It is not going to change by you persisting. It is not going to change just because you talk to him or worse, say out loud that he doesn’t seem to like you or seem scared but it’s ok because you have kids  yourself (alternatively you are a grandparent).

Excuse me but it is completely irrelevant.

I’m sure you are a wonderful parent/grandparent. I am sure your kids/grandkids absolutely love and adore you. But I’m also sure that’s because they already know you. It doesn’t matter how lovely others think you are, to my son you are a stranger. So when he says no, don’t get all butt hurt, just back away and give him some space.

Please realize that wether my child is in the comfort of a wrap being carried by me or in a stroller covered in a blanket that does NOT mean he wants you to poke him, pinch his checks or stroke him on the cheek. (Again, I’m sure you mean well but you are a complete stranger. Btw I don’t know a single child in the world who likes having their cheeks pinched.)

If he doesn’t seem interested in talking to you he probably isn’t. And it probably isn’t “just because he’s shy”. Most often it is because he has made a conscious judgment call that he just does not want to talk to you. You do not interest him.

Do not try to explain away my son’s behavior. He needs your understanding, not for you to patronize him or treat him like he doesn’t know what’s best for him. (Newsflash, in this case he does, you don’t!)

When my son is walking next to me, for the love of everything that’s holy, do NOT pick him up! Unless he’s running into traffic and I’m too far away to catch him in time, whisking him off his feet is NEVER ok! It will automatically trigger the mama bear response in me. I will go all warrior viking on you. Understand that when you whisk my son off his feet I see AMBER alert and think of people like John Wayne Gacy, not innocent stranger who wants to hold a cute child. It’s not because I am overly nervous, it’s because you, a complete stranger, just picked upp my dearest child.

So, to keep the holiday spirit please know, that unless my son openly engages in conversation with you or tries to shake your hand he is off limits to you. Remember, a no is always a no wether the person saying is is 2 or 72.

Sincerely yours,

The mom

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