|costumed baby riding a wooden cage|
We've been out at the Texas Renaissance Festival (TRF) for 4 weekends now, and everybody wants to Touch The Baby. Friends, acquaintances, strangers. Everybody wants to touch the baby, and more specifically, Make The Baby Laugh. And it's starting to drive me a little crazy. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that our friends and acquaintances love the baby. I just want Jack's personal space to be a little more respected. He's his own little person, after all, not a plaything for your amusements, even if well intentioned.
Jack had horrible separation anxiety as an infant. He would cry inconsolably any time anyone would hold him, except for me. He wouldn't even let Dennis hold him. He's never been a huge fan of the game Pass The Baby, either (even when he finally got past the separation anxiety), despite the fact that everyone insisted on playing (even taking the baby straight out of my arms before I could protest). Jack would scream his head off until he made his way back to me, often accompanied by comments about him being a momma's boy. Needless to say, I'm carrying around some resentments about this happening. Unless a baby reaches for you, don't try to hold them, they obviously don't want to be held by you (no offense). It doesn't matter how much you want to hold the baby if they don't want to be held by you.
Jack is a very serious baby. Sure, he smiles and laughs plenty, but when he comes across something new, he studies it very seriously. People included. And he's been meeting all sorts of new people out at TRF so he's been particularly serious lately. He's adorable when he's serious, but he's blind-yourself-because-he's-too-cute-and-you-just-can't-take-it cute when he's laughing and smiling (and really, what baby isn't?!?). This has led everyone to try to make him laugh by tickling him or poking him in the belly or making weird noises or whatever. And once it works, they don't want to stop. And Jack isn't enjoying it at all. I can understand you poking the baby trying to make him laugh because it worked before, but if you don't get the reaction you expected, STOP! Yeah, yeah, I get it, he's a cute baby and you want to make him laugh, but what if he doesn't feel like being tickled or laughing?!? What then?
I know it sucks when you feel like the baby doesn't like you when you think you've finally won him over, but just because he doesn't feel like being tickled or held by you doesn't mean he doesn't like you!!! Maybe he's tired. Maybe he's distracted. Maybe he's interested in something else. Maybe he just doesn't feel like playing. Maybe he just wants Momma.
We all need to realize that babies are little people. They are individuals, separate from Mommy and Daddy, and just like anyone else, they deserve to be respected. They may start out helpless and need pretty much constant care, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't honor their personal space, and yes, I think babies deserve to have their own personal space, however small that may be. How would you feel if you were minding your own business when out of nowhere someone you may or may not even remember or know, rushes up to you and tries to tickle you without your permission? You wouldn't like that very much, would you? And just because a baby looks at you doesn't mean they want to be tickled. Babies have likes and dislikes just like adults. They have good mood and bad moods, too, and just because you poke them in the belly doesn't mean they will magically light up and giggle for you. So if it doesn't work the first time, please, please, please, don't poke the baby.