The baby snatcher

12 Dec

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There are many reasons to love Malaysia and to love the people of Malaysia. There’s really only one reason to dislike them. They touch my baby. All the time.

The cleaner at the supermarket puts down her dirty rag to poke his cheek. The man who smells like cigarette smoke opens my car door to rub his face. The toothless woman coughs into her hands at the hospital and then tugs on his foot. The shop assistant stops packing away the dusty  milk cartons to kiss his hands which he’ll put into his mouth at any moment. The girl at church strokes his head while he’s sleeping and proceeds to wake him – even though it took 20minutes to get him to sleep.

At least these people stop at touching though. Because then there’s the more difficult issue of strangers asking if they can hold him. The strange woman who comes up to us at the town’s sports field. The shop assistant who can see that he’s only 7days old and can barely open his eyes. The teller who beckons me to pass him over across the counter. The school girls who approach us at a local sports days. This seems very strange to me. Why would I possibly give you my tiny baby when I’ve never met you? He’s not a toy to be passed around.

But my heart is softer to these people who actually ask. Because I really can’t stand the baby-snatchers. These are people who simply come up and attempt to take him. The restaurant owner who watches as I lift my dozzy baby out the pram after a nap, simply reaches into my arms to take him. The woman who says “Ok, I must hold him now” and without asking comes over to take. To these women, I unashamedly deny.

Although I say ‘unashamedly’, it’s not true. I always leave these situations with a sense of guilt. Am I a terrible person to find offense in this? Perhaps I’m over-protective and irrational when I make my husband change direction in the shopping centre because I see someone heading our way with that determined “I love your baby” look all over their face.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that Jack is loved by people. I love that work colleagues take delight in him and hold him and make him smile. I’m happy to give him over to the pastor’s wife at church because she’s invested time in us, visited us and prayed for us. I even enjoyed handing him over to the neighbour while I was trying to hang up laundry (this involved a rather risky choice of handing him over the fence.) But the amount of love from strangers is somewhat frightening. Is this normal, I ask? (Other parents who stumble across this blog, please feel free to comment.)

What seems even more strange to me is that when I tell other Malaysian parents about this, they seem horrified and say, “definitely don’t let a stranger hold your baby.” This makes me think that Jack is just a tourist hot spot. His strange thin blonde hair and big blue eyes are a novelty, a story to add alongside the visit to the zoo.

And while I blame the people, I blame Jack too. He smiles so much and so often that you can’t help but fall in love with him. I’m learning a valuable lesson here: that sometimes as parents we have to make unpopular decisions, even though we don’t know if it’s the best decision –  simply because we believe it’s the best for our child. And we don’t need to explain more. please_dont_touch_my_hands_i_put_them_in_my_mo_tshirt-p235864244795677530zv2q3_400

After writing this post, I did a quick google search on “Don’t touch my baby” and 100s of blogs, write ups and articles came up about the very same thing – people from all the around the world feeling the need to protect their baby. It seems as though it is not a cultural thing – but a human thing. Perhaps children attract attention in every culture and we just forget how we felt when they were our own. I hope that in years to come when my children are grown, I will remember how I felt once.

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2 Responses to “The baby snatcher”

  1. Calvin December 13, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Catherine, at least it is “snatching” due to affection rather than hatred . So perhaps in a strange way, you and Jack are indeed blessed. ……blessed, but still a little scary. Merry Christmas to all three of you from Newfoundland.

  2. thedowiestravel December 14, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    Very true. And they dont run away with him 🙂

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