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January 13, 2011

An Important Line

I’m not sure where the line is quite yet, but somewhere in life there is a line that separates babies from the rest of the human population.  Things that are okay, even cute, on the baby side of the line are not so on the child/teenager/adult side.


Exhibit A:  Wearing a lion’s face on the seat of your striped pants.



For a baby, cute.  For anyone else, awkward (you’ll understand why I don’t have a photo here).


Exhibit B:  Bodily functions. When a baby burps, poops, etc., more often than not, his or her parents will offer praise.  Even in public.  And sometimes the incident will morph into a recent history of the function in question.  Even in public.  While this is not the most flattering thing for a baby (or his or her parents), it’s acceptable.  For adults, except in the privacy of a doctor’s office, this is entirely off limits.


Exhibit C (and really, the crux of the matter):  As a baby, both inside and outside of the womb, strangers sometimes think it’s okay to try to touch you.  Only one virtual stranger (I’d just met her) touched my belly when I was pregnant, but others have either stroked Jacob’s foot or reached for his hand since he’s been born and we’ve been out and about.


Now, I don’t think anyone would agree that it’s okay to just reach out and pet a non-pregnant stranger’s belly.  But when there’s a baby on board, some folks seem to believe all bets are off.


On the one hand, I appreciate the sentiment: there’s a baby in there, and that is a precious, sacred thing.  We could use more of that kind of respect for the unborn in this world, if you ask me.  But that’s a post for another day.  On the other hand, especially in New York City, where it’s all about personal space, I remain baffled by the folks who think this is okay.


And when it comes to Jacob, it really throws me off.  The touch is never threatening, always gentle and sweet.  But I wonder when it will come to an end.  I doubt the same people who reach to him now will do the same when he’s two or three (gosh, I hope they don’t!).  Will the change come when he can walk?  Talk?  Run around and just be too tricky to catch?  I’ll be on my guard until I see it happen.  And in this crazy city, only time will tell.


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