Since birth, I’ve noticed that not only is my son incredibly cute, and attracts attention for it, but he is naturally friendly and sociable.
For a first time mom, this was terrifying at first. It took me a while to not only get used to strangers looking at my baby, but really, REALLY wanting to interact with him. I admit that before I had my own, I would talk to babies in the stores and the mall, but I myself would never dream of trying to hold them.
We are asked this on a daily basis.
I don’t allow strangers to hold my child, and I get wary if I think they are following us (it has happened.). It doesn’t help that Bruce is looking over my shoulder laughing at people and engaging them more.
The most recent creepy encounter happened at Publix. My husband and I were almost done shopping, and were glancing over a display of muffins. Out of no where, a small, elderly lady in a motoized cart spoke up and asked if we “had muffins for the baby?”
I just laughed and said “he has his own snacks” because I didn’t really relish the thought of my ten month old jacked up on so much sugar from a chocolate muffin, half the size of his head.
She then asked me more intently if I got the baby any muffins.
‘Ok, maybe you’re just weird’ I thought as I ushered my little pack away from this lone wolf, and tried to check out. She then gets right behind us, and as I’m paying I see my husband giving me the most puzzled look as I watch this stranger lean over her scooter to tell my son he needed to start asking for a pony: and that “Grandma Gertrude” said it was ok.
I didn’t flip out and start screaming or hit the doors and run like a crazy person: but I’d be a liar if a tiny part of me didn’t outweigh this option. Some people just really love kids, and I’ve noticed a lot just really love my kid. And that’s ok. I’m never going to let him come in harm’s way, and the last thing I want to do is be rude to someone who might be having a hard time, and talking to a cute baby is a nice escape for them. If anything ever does seem very off and threatening, that is a different story. But this blog post isn’t about that: it’s about a lovely woman I shall refer to as TJ.
Since Bruce was about a month old, we were lucky enough to always have our groceries bagged by a very sweet lady named “TJ”, who absolutely LOVED Bruce. She would tickle his feet, and play peekabo behind plastic bags, just to get one of his giggles. She would comment how she didn’t have children of her own but LOVED them, and how she just loved interacting with babies (especially ours). Shopping day is a family event, and soon even my husband enjoyed meeting up with our Publix friend so we could watch Bruce interact with her.
They recently moved her to produce so I myself was disappointed my favorite bagger wasn’t available, more so for the reason Bruce wouldn’t get to play with his buddy. Then we noticed that the department change wasn’t going to hinder anything-Bruce saw her before I did, and they were soon playing peekabo with the dividing counters in the produce section.
I honestly think he looks for TJ each time we go – I know I certainly do. I already love our neighborhood Publix for being the best grocery store in our town, but their friendship makes it better-it’s inspiring to have watched it blossom from tickles on the feet to an all out game of trying to find each other among the bananas.
It makes me remember that most people in the world, are good people. Don’t let that 1% of bad people, ruin it for the 99% of good.
TJ is the only “stranger” I have ever let hold and smother my son with kisses. And she’s very good at it.
The world can be dangerous, but If I raised my son to fear everyone, I feel he would miss out on so much – friends he would never have, opportunities missed, and dreams unrealized. I’m going to be as protective as I can for as long as I can, but I don’t want him afraid to interact with others. I can thanks TJ for helping remind me a stranger is *sometimes* just a friend you haven’t met yet.
|TJ & Bruce|