Olivia was born in February, which is really when cold and flu season nestles in about these parts, so yeah… my rule of thumb was DON’T TOUCH MY BABY YOU DIRTY, DIRTY VERMIN! It wasn’t just me being paranoid either. My ob-gyn had warned me. “She’s beautiful and you’ll want to take her everywhere and show her off, but DON’T! Keep her home!” Her pediatrician had warned me. “I know you’ll feel like you’re going stir crazy, but DON’T TAKE HER OUT!” My friend across the street whose daughter had suffered a very terrifying case of RSV had also warned me to leave my precious defenseless infant at home.
Two weeks postpartum I couldn’t take anymore and disregarding the instructions of EVERYONE EVER EVERYWHERE, I cuted up my baby girl and took her to Target where no fewer than 3.5 billion germy people touched her. At two weeks old my baby had her first cold and double ear infection. For those of you who don’t know, there is NOTHING you can do for a newborn with a cold except run a humidifier and stay up all night with a mirror and a flashlight to make sure she is still breathing. It is terrifying – made even more so by the knowledge that it was entirely your fault. After that I was hyper-vigilant about people, whether or not they’d washed their hands, and their proximity to my baby.
As time passed and Olivia grew and built her immune system I relaxed my standards and now I’m only vaguely annoyed when I see parents carting around children who have green stuff hanging off their faces or who are so obviously sick and hacking and yet STILL encouraged to play in the habi-trail at Chick Filet. I try to keep my dirty glances to a minimum.
I get the germ phobia is what I’m saying.
Yesterday Olivia and I went shopping. She was in her cutest outfit, her face was washed, her nose was blown, her hair was secured out of her face. She showed no visible signs of illness because she’s not sick. She looked darn cute if I do say so myself. Hand in hand we entered Carters Outlet where she saw another child sitting in a stroller. The little girl looked to be about a year old if not older. Standing before the stroller was her older brother who looked to be Olivia’s age, and standing behind the stroller was their mother.
“Hello, friend! Hello!” Olivia greeted, waving and walking towards the little girl. I saw Olivia’s hands move toward the girl and hurried to remind her not to touch. To Olivia’s credit she did not touch the girl. Her hands floated over her much like a magician’s would to prove that there were no strings, but she didn’t touch. I was relieved and almost ready to smile at the other mother when she whipped around, pushed Olivia’s hand away and seriously snarled, “Don’t touch my baby!”
It took me all of a second to wedge myself between Olivia and the momma bear. “Don’t touch my baby!”
I saw the ladies behind the counter freeze, waiting to see how this would unfold. I saw myself standing there, wondering how I was going to explain the police report to Jack. Fortunately for all of us Olivia had spied the L*ego table in the back and had already darted away. The other mother and I exchanged annoyed ‘you are so lucky’ eye-rolls and went about our business.
I totally could have taken her.