03/19/2015 12:37 EDT | Updated 05/19/2015 05:59 EDT

Bringing My Baby on Public Transit Is Not an Invitation to Touch Him


I'm a public transit gal. Have been for a long time. And with the husband working on the other side of the city, out of range of the subway, it's always made sense for him to drive to work. On days when I have appointments or work downtown, I hop on the bus and then the subway. Having a kid has reduced the frequency, but I will still haul one of them in a baby carrier if I need to. I hate taking a stroller, but I'm totally fine strapping a kid on and doing what I have to.

People on public transit are...umm...weird.

They're even weirder when you have a baby with you. I think some people believe babies are like some kind of carte blanche to interact with someone you've never met.

Don't get me wrong, I do, in fact, like to meet new people, or exchange a story or two with another mother I run into. I love commiserating! But I really don't want to hear about how your mother didn't love you because she gave you formula in the '60s, and that's why you had trouble bonding with your children, who are now adults and estranged, but you think they're doing fine because you heard as much from your friend and your sister*. Especially when you haven't even told me your name.

But despite the weird conversations I've had with strangers on public transit, I'd take a hundred of them or more over the type of person who presumes that they can just come over and put their hands on my baby's cheeks or fingers, without asking me first.

A few weeks ago, I was on the subway with baby C, who was fast asleep on me. His head was covered, so there was very little of him visible, but it was obvious he was sleeping. No word of a lie, this older lady bee-lined straight for him and went to lift up the hood that was covering his goddamn face, so she could see him!

Are you kidding me?

I batted her hand away, and said, "HA! Don't even think of waking a sleeping baby."

I mean, seriously.

Then, the other day, I was on the subway again with baby C. This time, he was awake. The lady next to us was giving him googly eyes, and then she just reached over and started playing with his hands.

Ummmm, excuse me?

We are in the midst of a measles outbreak. We are on public transit, where a million people travel and touch and sneeze and all sorts of other things. And you touch my baby's hands, without asking if it's okay first?

Nope. Nope. Nope.

Well, that's what I said in my head. But for some reason, I couldn't say anything this time. I sat there, my skin crawling, wanting to scream at this woman for PRESUMING, but I. Just. Couldn't.

Is that because I'm Canadian (a.k.a. too goddamn polite)?

Or is it just because I saw the humanity in her, and realized she was enjoying a moment with my adorable child, not thinking about precautions (because I'm sure she felt entirely healthy). It was thoughtless, but it wasn't mean-spirited, so my Nice Gene kicked in (what? I have one too!) and made me just sit there while she played with baby C.

I don't know what the right thing to do would have been.

What would you have done?

*Yep. That happened.

This post originally appeared on The Joy of Cooking (for Little Assholes) here.


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