You can look, but don’t touch

People do a lot of things that annoy me. Wearing nude pantyhose (unless you’re a flight attendant, which, even in that case, is still pretty unacceptable), talking loudly on a cell phone when in a public place (dude, check if – you are not the most important person on Earth, and no one wants to hear your conversation), littering (the most selfish act around – it’s like saying, “You, pick up my trash, as I’m too good to dispose of it myself”) and signaling late just before making a turn (if I had known you were going to turn, I would have switched lanes so as not to get stuck behind you for the next 15 minutes) are all examples of what I consider to be offensive behavior.

Now that I have a child, a new act has risen to the top of my list, ousting nude pantyhose-wearing: touching my child. Do. Not. Touch. My. Kid.

I have no problem with friends or relatives kissing, squeezing, or coochie-cooing my son, but the minute a stranger lays a hand on him, I become one of those cartoon characters that turns red, and then steam begins shooting out of her ears. I desperately need to know this: what is it that makes a stranger think it’s kosher to touch my kid with his or her God-knows-where-they’ve-been hands? Honestly, the chutzpah (nerve, to you gentiles) of these people. I understand that they think he’s cute, squeezable, whatever (and honestly, you’ve seen my kid – he is), but why not simply say so? Is it necessary to experience his squeezability?

I’m not a big germophobe; my kid rolls around on the floor, and I’ve been known to give him back his plastic keys to gnaw on even after they’ve fallen on the floor at The Cheesecake Factory. However, you don’t know if the sales clerk at Bloomingdales just wiped her nose before grabbing your kid’s hand, or if the nail technician’s fingers were soaking in chemical-laden polish remover before grabbing your son’s cheeks. Occasionally, people will even reach down and attempt to KISS my kid. Honestly, who goes around kissing strangers anyway, even if they are kids? Believe it or not, more people than you think.

Some moms don’t mind any of the above, but it seriously unnerves me. When my kid was young, I didn’t quite know how to handle it. I’d sort of nervously sit there, hoping that it would end fast before I hauled off and smacked the person. As I became a bit more secure in my authority as my son’s protector, I began speaking out, clearly – yet icily – stating, “Please don’t touch him” to anyone I sensed was getting close to grabbing him. This was difficult for me at first, as I hail from the South, the American birthplace of gentility.

To rock the boat in such a way isn’t sweet, and to be a girl and not be sweet is to not be, most Southerners believe. I have realized, however, that when it comes to my kid, sweet is damned. If shielding him from a germy smooch or shake is deemed nastier than the smooch or shake’s potential repercussions, I could care less, I’ve decided. I think it’s good practice for future situations in which I might need to advocate for my kid, you know?

God help that first kid who steals his toy on the playground.

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