Thursday, April 03, 2008

Unnerving

OK so I just had an experience that has left me a little unnerved and I'm still not sure what to make of it and quite honestly I'm a little freaked out. I took beanie to the park. We were walking around and playing on some of the toddler sized playground stuff. I noticed a couple women watching her from afar--smiling at Beanie in all her cuteness--nothing unusual there. When we were back at the toddler slide one of these women came over to us (with her older son--about 7). I was putting Beanie on the slide and this woman was telling her son to move (in a language I didn't understand. She spoke only a couple English words but made it known she was from Uzbekistan). Anyway, she and her son started interacting with Beanie in a cute, non threatening way. Then it started to get a little weird...as I was sliding Beaning down the slide this woman starting holding on to her as well. Every time I held Beanie down the slide, she held Beanie down the slide. When Beanie got to the bottom of the slide she went to pick her up (while I'm still holding on to her). She was smiling and nice and it all seemed harmless, but of course in my head I'm thinking "What are you doing? This is MY child...let go." Then, even once when I was holding onto Beanie her son gets on the slide and she grabs her back up so that her son and Beanie can slide down the slide together. Once at the bottom she actually picks her up holds her and cuddles her. Surprisingly Beanie is responsive and even gives her kisses. Again, she is smiling and nice and of course I'm RIGHT THERE, so I'm not worried that she's actually going to run off with my daughter. I'm chalking up this behavior as a cultural gap and just a mom who wishes she had a little girl (she tells me in her broken English "2 boys"). Then upon one of these hugs with Beanie she says (while looking at me, smiling) "Mine" while giving Beanie a tight squeeze. This is when I draw the line and my panic button is going off like crazy. This time I say "NOOO" shake my head and take Beanie away. Again this was all friendly and sorta in fun. I didn't want to be mean, but I was definitely not comfortable with this. In fact, honestly I was not comfortable with any of it. I don't know if she got my point because we meandered to the other side of the playground and eventually she went back to the bench she had been sitting on.

I am known to take things and blow them out of proportion, but this was rather frightening to me. Now I have an aunt and uncle who live in China. I remember them telling me about people actually walking up to their children, picking them up and walking off. It was something that happened frequently--usually to show someone else a this cute non-Asian child or to even get a picture with them. Of course it was unnerving to them and they learned to be aggressive and to stop people from walking away with their children. So again, perhaps this was a cultural barrier that I was unfamiliar with, but the truth is I am most mad at myself. Regardless of her intentions I was not OK with this. I should have said something and made it clear I was not OK with her holding onto, grabbing and picking up my child. I decided a long time ago that I would never place someones feeling above the safety of my own child but in these few minutes where I was so caught off guard by the situation I found myself doing just that. Not to mention there is a small fear in me that this lady was actually casing my daughter much like a burglar casing a house, and would have actually tried to take her if the situation presented itself.

I don't know...like I said I'm not sure what to make it. I'm trying to tell myself it was harmless and just a mom getting all sentimental for those bygone baby days. However, I will never let my fear of being "rude" stand in the way of being a parent and letting those mama bear claws come out if necessary. Anyone have any experience with something like this?

8 comments:

  1. I certainly haven't experienced anything similar but what you were saying really resonated with me. It makes sense to me that you're unsettled. Your instincts told you to be wary. You may not have acted on the uncomfortable feeling because you worried that you were overreacting. I think women (maybe all humans but particularly mothers) have those instinctive reactions for a reason and that we shouldn't hesitate to trust them for fear of appearing irrational. Easier said than done but I think you're right. Better to feel silly or hurt someone's feelings than discount the instinctive warning that your child's safety is at risk.

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  2. Just reading your account, it seemed like she was just jealous and wanted a girl and didn't have the words to ask you if she could hold her. But if it were my baby, I would definitely have alarms going off in my head. One time a man offered to help me with my stroller up the stairs. I expected him to carry the foot strap while I carried the handles, as is normally done. Instead he grabbed it and took off up the stairs with me still standing there, fiddling with my diaper bag until I looked up and realized what was going on. I booked it up after him and, yes, he put it down at the top and was trying to be nice. But it was several minutes before my heart rate went back to normal. I think you handled it just right - joke or smile if you want to gloss it over, but firmly stake your territory. It's a mom's prerogative.

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  3. I haven't had a parallel that I can think of, but I do know that you should always trust your gut instinct.

    If all the hairs are standing up and your panic button is going off, honor it.

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  4. I'm a big fan of the panic button. It's there for a reason. She probably meant well, but I agree with Ellen, that staking territory is important. Especially when the territory is as cute as the bean is.

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  5. You did the right thing. You handled it very well. I am not sure what I would have done.

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  6. The few times I've had similar experiences, I realized afterward that I was glad because, like you, it made me think about what I would do in similar situations in the future. I think I would've reacted the way you did..it's harder to believe that another mother would do anything horrible, but yeah, you never know!

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  7. so creepy, i haven't had any baby experiences like htis but darek can never uderstand why i'm nice to creepy guys or wahtever that talk to me on the subway or something. he can't figure out why i don't want to offend them which is a good point. i'm always too nice but it would be so much smarter to error on the side of safety and avoid creepy people. you just never know. bring out the mama bear claws!

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  8. Yeah,
    That's weird. Really weird. She moved beyond the comfort zone of interacting with a stranger's child.

    I can relate with comments people give to me or advice that I receive. I feel that since I had the monkey, people feel like they're entitled to giving me their opinion about children. Sometimes I feel like saying I don't want to hear it, but feel like being forward will just create a really awkward situation.

    I totally know how you feel.

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