Guest Mom Leah Says “Hand’s Off My Child!”

Ever had a stranger pinch your kid’s cheeks—or rub your pregnant belly for “good luck”? Anyone ever asked your 3-year-old thumb sucker what flavor their finger was? If you’ve ever found yourself annoyed by how oblivious or downright rude and inconsiderate strangers can be sometimes, you’re not alone!

Leah Austin of Nazareth, Pennsylvania sent us this oh-so-funny rant about how thoughtless people can be (even though they might mean well) and how they seem to be around every corner you turn…

Think Before You Speak Please

Experts tell us that extended work weeks, long commutes and an increase in time watching television has Americans feeling  more socially isolated. I disagree. In fact I’ve seen a marked increase in people seeking to socially interact with me since I’ve become a mother and I’d like to respectfully tell my new-found would-be friends to bug off.

It started even before my children made their grand entrance into the world. As soon as my belly began to show that tell-tale budge, I was bombarded by strangers peppering me with questions wherever I went.

Little old ladies would smile and exclaim, “Wow! You must be due any day now!” as I waited on line at the checkout. Nice enough, I suppose, except for the fact that I was barely into my second trimester.

Others took an even more bold approach, I can’t even count the number of times people guessed during my first pregnancy that I was carrying a girl on account that “girls steal your beauty”. Oh and did I mention, my first was a boy?

Now, I don’t know about you ladies, but I was a volatile creature when I was pregnant. My husband coming back from the store with the wrong brand of cereal could set me off into a wave of tears and sniffles – so you can imagine what these back-handed “compliments” did for my mental frame of mind as an expecting mom.

Of course, it didn’t end there. My babies were really cute (I know, whose aren’t?) and their cuteness invited a host of strangers to hover over their strollers at any given opportunity. It’s one thing to have perfect strangers smiling and cooing at your precious little ones, but what is with the touching?

People love to touch babies. They just love it. And that’s just fine and dandy until you consider the fact that these little creatures have little immune systems. And these big creatures hovering over them have lots and lots of germs.

If you sneeze and then touch my baby’s hand, chances are my baby’s hand is going into his mouth pretty soon after, along with your sneezy, icky germs.

I tried to stop the problem right in its tracks. Being the witty woman that I am, I made a sign that read “Hands Off, I bite!” and stuck it on my son’s carrier. You’d think people would get the hint, right?


All my sign did was invite people to stick their fingers in my son’s mouth to see if he did indeed bite. I wish he could have. I’m lucky he never caught the swine flu!

And, of course, babies eat. We all do, but baby’s eating module seems to be up for public discussion. On one of our first ventures out, post-baby, we headed Gino’s, our local Italian pizza/pasta haunt where we’re fairly well known. Gino himself stopped by our table to see our new addition.

“Ah, beautiful baby,” he said.

“Thanks,” I replied.

“Joo feed from zee bottle? Or from zee brayst?,” he inquired as he pantomimed cupping a well-endowed breast.

“Er, I nurse,” I stammered.

“Nurse? You have nurse? Das nice. Das nice to have help. But do you feed zee baby from zee bottle or zee brayst?” Again, the breast- grab pantomime.

“Um, from the breast.” I muttered.

“Ah, from zee brayst. Zat ess beautiful,” he breathed, as if he was a public relations manager for La Leche League. Then he walked away.

So, now I have the unnerving feeling that every time I pop into Gino’s for a slice of pizza that smile means that he’s envisioning me as some sort of bare-breasted fertility goddess and I don’t like it one bit!

Why is it that perfect strangers seem to be compelled to poke and prod (both figuratively and literally) at me and my children? Have we as a society become so socially isolated that our people skills have gone out the window? Or is it that we’re so very lonely we’re grasping at straws to make conversation with anyone?

Don’t people think before they speak anymore? If you’re reading this and you know you’re guilty of peppering strangers with intimate and inappropriate questions-please think about what you’re saying and how you’re saying it and how it can be taken.

Oh, and hands off the baby! He may not bite yet, but I will!


Leah A.

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