by Philippa Cross who would rather be outdoors than in, alone than in a crowd. She prefers dogs to cats, with a major leaning towards bulldogs. She hopes to win the Pulitzer prize for her yet unpublished novel. She started Thumb Media with a partner in June 2009
I am amazed how many people haven’t the faintest idea about how to approach toddlers and children, and how to respect their space. So many people believe that because they are little, their rights to personal privacy are somehow diminished. They reach out to touch them, grab a hand, pinch a cheek, and plant a wet sloppy kiss on their cheeks. Even complete strangers in Pick n Pay have walked right up to my trolley, and grabbed a little hand before I could stop them.
Like every mother, I think my children are gorgeous. They have perfect little faces full of childhood innocence. They have huge blue eyes, white blonde hair, and fat rolls round their knees and wrists in that adorable way only toddlers can pull off. They are as pinchable and as kissable as can be. But I know better than to pinch their bums without permission though.
Even when they were tiny little things I approached them as I would approach a stranger who’s space I was seriously about to invade. I was gentle, respectful, and I asked permission. I never just assumed because I was their mom that I could lift up their t-shirt and plant a big zerbit on their tummies. I wanted them to be the masters of their young bodies right from the beginning. Obviously, there have been times when I’ve had to do what I’ve had to do. I don’t get their express permission every nappy change time, or every bath time.
I can’t be alone in having to keep a vigilant watch over my children when people visit. And when my sons don’t warm to them in the first 30 seconds of them walking through the door, I find myself apologising to them, trying to spare their feelings.
“Don’t take it personally, Nathan is just very shy. Give him some time and he’ll warm up to you.”
Bollocks to that. Nathan is three. You’re 63. You’re old enough to know better. Nathan’s not shy. He’s normal. How would you feel if someone 4 times your size walked into your house, marched straight up to you and tried to pick you up, puckered up their over made up lips and planted a wet soggy one on your cheek? You’d probably get the fright of your life and call the police. Why on earth should he know who you are and why you want to kiss him?
On the other hand, I do all I can to prepare the little chaps for just such occasions.
“Aunt Lillian hasn’t seen you since you were a tiny baby.”
“When I was a baby and I had a dummy and you changed my nappy?”
“Yes. Since then.”
“Yes, since you were as small as Dylan. Aunt Lillian hasn’t seen you since you were smaller than Dylan is now. And she’s going to come and visit us today.”
“At our house?”
“That’s right. She’s coming to our house to visit you and your brother. And she’s going to want to give you a big squeeze and a kiss.”
“Like I kiss Hadyn at school?”
“Do you kiss Hadyn at school?”
“You kiss Hadyn and Skylah at school. What does Teacher Anne say?”
“Will you give your mom a kiss then?”
<giggle>< run away>
At which point I use the prerogative that is mine as his mother alone, break my rule, chase after him, pick him up, and force 100s of kisses all over his cheeks and his tummy. Just to show him who’s boss. That will teach him not to give his mom a kiss!