Please Read This Before Touching Someone's Child (3 minute read)

I don’t touch other people’s kids without asking their parents or the kid themselves first.

**Click Below To Listen** 

First of all, kids are gross. I know kids touch everything and anything. Aside from being a mom, I’ve been a babysitter, a camp counsellor, a tutor, a piano teacher and a tennis coach for elementary school kids. Their grubby, sticky little hands have been in their nose, their ears, their mouths, handrails, toilets...anything and everything.  

I remember this one time I was walking downtown and noticed a little boy was walking ahead with his older sister. This little boy was running his fingers along the walls of every single building he walked by. Then I saw him pet a stranger’s dog, pick his nose and then grab his sister’s hand before crossing the street, all in the span of 30 seconds. 

So I don’t want some kid’s germs all over me plus all the germs he’s picked up during the day. I treat my body like a temple. I’m a huge baby when I get sick so I’d prefer to take care of one rather than be one.

80% of common infections are spread by our hands (and from hands of all sizes). So that sums up the whole infection prevention aspect.  

But another important reason is consent. I do not have a right to touch anyone as I please. This is especially true when the person is much smaller, more vulnerable, learning how to communicate with us and developing their sense of body awareness.

Let’s rewind back 25 years or so. 

I was shopping with my mom and we were walking down some street (maybe Pender?) in Chinatown. I was holding the belt on the back of my mom's jean jacket when we stopped at a crosswalk. 

My mom’s watching the lights, keeping a close eye on traffic, knowing I was close by as she felt her jacket tugging behind her. 

A man came up and stood beside me. He looked at me with a big grin (aw what a cute kid kinda look). He leaned in and with his giant hand, pinched my chubby left cheek. 

When the light turned green, my face became red as we crossed the street. 

My cheek stung not from the pinch but from embarrassment, confusion and anger. He invaded my personal space and at that moment, I wanted to cut off my cheeks so no one could ever pinch them again. 

I wanted to grow up quicker so they would disappear. We were halfway across the next street when I told my mom about what happened. She asked me where the man was and he had disappeared. We kept walking and that memory faded along with him and my chubby cheeks. 

Reflecting back on that memory now, I think that it made me more aware of my personal space and the importance of consent.  This became more apparent when I had a kid. Today's Parent published an article that addresses the topic head-on.

Children and babies naturally bring smiles out of strangers. They’re cute. They’re cuddly. They coo and melt our hearts. They have tiny feet and little hands with itty bitty nails. Whenever I see a stroller, I'm curious and want to take a peek. 

When I became a mom, I became a bystander to that attention. It was weird at first because those mama bear instincts came out naturally without actually thinking about it. I would watch strangers like a hawk, making sure they kept their hands to themselves. 

Whenever I’m doing anything physical with my daughter, I narrate my actions so she can hear the words and how they are linked to what I’m doing. It gives me something to say when I’m trying to talk to her (conversations with a baby get pretty boring and after a while, I sometimes forget to talk). 

I remind folks to wash their hands before holding her (which in my opinion, is a good habit to have whether you're holding a baby or not). Honestly, it was difficult for me to do this at first because I had a fear that the person would take offence. But so far, everyone that I've made the suggestion to respected it and complied. 

I believe every individual has a will to do no harm and it's called a conscience (aside from psychopaths).  

So let's respect our bodies, other peoples' bodies, teach our children about consent and pave the way for the future so there are no more stinging red cheeks (unless that's your thing and there's consent...I ain't gonna judge...I digress...let's just end this post)

So Readers, has anyone ever pinched your chubby cheeks when you were a kid? How do you feel when teaching our kids about consent?

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