Touchy Granola

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Babies, babies everywhere.

So we stay up until 10. Let Boo eat in her room. Give her knives and power tools. That’s our business, and if you choose to raise your kids differently, that’s yours — though I fear the day that your kids try to build bookcases without any knowledge of circular saws.

But when Boo’s around other kids, I toe the behavior line way south of “restrictive” to ensure that we don’t accidentally set a bad example. Permissive at home, oppressive in public.

Double that when Boo’s near babies.

Not everyone shares this philosophy, it seems. A week or so ago, we went to one of those private indoor playspaces that fill up on rainy and cold days. Not a chain, mind you, but a very independent, San Francisco-style affair, which means somewhere between “yuppie” and “granola.” That sounds a bit pejorative, but I mean no disrespect: that niche of yupnola is exactly where I feel most comfortable.

The Blueberry was next to me, still ensconced in her car seat, when up toddled a cute 20-month old boy with a baby obsession. Babies love infants, and I’m usually cool with them playing with Blue’s toes or making funny faces. That’s my limit, though: no strange toddlers may carry my four-month-old baby.

Go ahead, call me an uptight bastard. (No, really, you wouldn’t be the first.)

This particular mom, though, after joshing with me (heh, heh) about how her son loves babies, said, “OK, just don’t put your fingers in her mouth.”

And boy proceeded to pat Blue on the head, rock her chair, tickle her neck, poke her eyes, tug on her ears… pretty much everything, including (of course) trying to poke his fingers in her mouth. I’m no germophobe, but we’ve had a heavy dose of viral reality lately, so I smilingly and gently blocked the (booger-laden) boy’s most egregious jabs, thinking mom would catch on that she’d gotten a little too loose.

Score: Obvious Hint, 0. Clueless Mom, 1.

Fortunately, having the Blueberry in her chair meant that I could prop her in high places for the rest of the morning as her toddler boyfriend stalked her every move.

The whole interaction, though, made me question my core belief: when in public, I am more attentive with other people’s kids than my own. After all, I know my own limits just fine, but I don’t know strangers’. For some, though, the inclination towards vigilance just doesn’t seem to apply.