Yesterday at the grocery store, a woman came up to Owen and touched his face. Just reached out and touched it. He was sitting in the shopping cart and I know those cheeks are just begging for a squeeze, but it weirded me out.

I posted on Facebook about it and people started commenting. Most felt the same way — that it’s just not cool to touch a stranger’s kid without asking. But when Jenna commented that she thought it was better that the woman touched his face, rather his hands which he would put in his mouth, it got me thinking.

My initial ickiness about it was germs. It’s winter, we were in the grocery store, this woman was a stranger and who knows where her hands have been or what she’s carrying on them. Sure, he’s just as likely to touch something on his own and get sick, but why add another element into the mix that can be avoided? But after Jenna’s comment I began to realize that what really bothered me about it was that it was invasive. Not really invasive for him (although, I guess you could argue that it is), but more invasive to me, the mother.

It goes along the same line as stranger reaching out to touch a pregnant belly. I never liked it when it happened to me, but I didn’t know how to handle it either. Smack their hand away? Ask them not to do it again? Ignore it? (I ended up always ignoring it, smiling and putting my hands over my stomach protectively hoping they wouldn’t do it again.)

I didn’t say anything to the woman, even though it bothered me. I’m not big on confrontation and I knew she wasn’t doing it out of malice, she just wanted to touch the cute baby. People like cute babies, I get it. But by not saying anything, am I making it ok?

Maybe it’s because I just don’t think to touch strangers’ kids. Or if I was going to, I would touch a less personal area…like shake their little foot or tickle their knee. The face? It’s just so…theirs.

So what do you think? Is it ok to touch someone’s baby without permission? Do you? Am I and the other moms who agreed with my Facebook post overreacting?

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