It starts innocently enough — you see a family taking an evening stroll, walking into the pews at church, or whizzing around the grocery store. Then something in your brain immediately clicks — cute child/baby = must hug/grab/poke, touch.
Dude, don’t touch my kid.
I’m not sure what it is that makes you think it’s okay to touch my child (or any child that isn’t your own). Are you so touch-deprived in your own relationships that you seek connections with anyone who gives you eye contact and waves their chubby hands in your direction? Do you feel unheard by your own peers so you seek attention in the easiest way possible? Is that just what they did “in the good old days”? Or perhaps someone actually told you it was okay to hug, kiss, or grab the hands of any child you deemed cute (who is this person?).
Regardless of your reason(s), I absolutely do not care. Yet, when I use the parental practice of giving my children bodily autonomy, I am met with gasps, sighs, and offended looks.
Dude, don’t touch my kid.
You are not thinking of a family’s circumstance when you unpermittedly touch their child. In fact, you’re clearly not thinking at all. Unless you know this family intimately, you do not know the struggles they face — the medical crosses they bear on a daily bases.
When I sit for 10 hours in the ER with my kidney disease ridden child who is running a 106 fever, I go through every possible scenario of where he could have picked up this bug. I text all of our friends, his babysitter, and his speech therapist. I wonder if he touched anything at the grocery store that wasn’t the twice-sanitized shopping cart. I pray, beg, and plead with God that we get competent nurses, and that the surgeon answers my calls and texts despite it being 8 p.m. on a Sunday.
Then I remember you. The older man/woman at church/Hobby Lobby/our neighborhood. You touched my kid. You didn’t know he’s fresh off his 10th kidney surgery in 2 years or that he has severe chronic kidney disease. But how could you? You never spoke to me. Yet you asked my child for a hug/gave him something random out of your purse/went to pinch his cheeks. Oh, I remember you. You scoffed at me when I pulled my child away and said “No thank you.” You rolled your eyes and huffed.
When I need to put my child in a headlock in order to get a catheterized urine sample, and wrap him up like a mummy (minus one arm) to get a good blood draw, I think of you. When his face turns purple from screaming, I think of you. When he looks at me a face full of tears and says, “No more mommy, please” or screams “Help me!”, I think of you.
I think of you, and I hate you. But most of all, I hate myself for failing (once again) to protect my child.
You may want to play devil’s advocate — “you dont know where the illness came from,” or “you cant protect him from everything.” But I guarantee every person who has said this to me has never seen their child lying lifeless on a hospital, dying.
My children will be well-versed in saying “no thank you” or offering a fist-bump instead of a hug. If you know us, this may offend you. If you don’t know us, it may still offend you. But guess what? This isn’t about you.
So dude, don’t flipping touch my kid.