Last weekend I went to one of my oldest friends baby shower. It was a lovely party for her and her baby, and I was so glad I got to share in the experience with her. She looks gorgeous, and her son is already so blessed!
But, it was nerve-wracking for me, in a way. Bringing a baby to a baby shower is like bringing cupcakes to a pre-teen girls slumber party. EVERYONE wants to grab! So I spent a good portion of the party fending people off and offering explanations. They were all very nice about it, just to be clear! My friend has a lovely group of friends; if I lived closer, I would like to get to know them all better.
Still, kindness and understanding aside, it was a high anxiety experience for me, and reminded me of some thoughts I’ve had before about the random stranger/acquaintance who doesn’t know about FPIES encounters we’ve had. So, I thought I would share with you what I wish the World At Large already knew about Touching My Son.
To All the Random People in the World Who Would Like to Touch my Son,
My son, with all his adorable chubby, gummy grinned babyness, is a nearly irresistible draw. I know this. If I were you, I would be sorely tempted to pinch his little cheeks, grab his little hand, bop him on the nose, and grin at him while making cooing noises to muster a smile.
He’s just so darn cute!
But here’s the thing: DON’T DO IT.
My son has a very rare, very weird disease that means ingesting the smallest trace of one of his triggers could bring about any variety of his symptoms: eczema, mucousy stool, bloody stool, acidic diaper rash burns, crying, discomfort, heightened respiration, vomiting, diarrhea, hypovolemic shock, and, just to underscore the seriousness of his condition, if I were not aware of his symptoms and disease and didn’t address it quickly, this could lead to actual death.
(Fortunately I am aware of his symptoms and disease and always address things quickly with him, but, you get the idea.)
I’m not being mean, paranoid, overprotective, antisocial or any of the other things I’m sure you think of me when I tell you not to touch my son. I’m simply protecting him.
Because you know that random soap you used to wash your hands in the public restroom? I don’t know what is in it. And if you didn’t rinse your hands well enough, and the soap has an unsafe ingredient for my son…well, you just put your poisonous hands all over my teething sons fingers, which means that he’s going to transfer that soap into his mouth, which means at least a week (or longer) of pain and discomfort for him.
Worse, you know that floral scented hand cream you used after you realized the unknown-ingredient-soap from the bathroom had dried out your skin? I speak from experience here: my son can react to your hand cream.
‘OK’, you say, ‘I won’t touch his hands.’ (Which, really, no one should EVER touch a babies hands because – EW – do you know where your hands have been? And do you really think a small baby needs those kinds of cooties in their mouth?) ‘I’ll just hold him.‘
Sounds good in theory, but he’ll reach his little hand up and pat your face at some point, almost guaranteed. And then he’ll put that little hand into his mouth.
Unless you’re a total hippie, you probably wear some kind of makeup. Do you know what’s in your foundation? Because they often put things like soy and coconut and corn in makeup, and at least two of those are poisonous to my son.
I won’t watch my son cry in pain, tend to a blistering acidic diaper rash, and endure a day of vomiting just to humor your urge to touch an adorable baby.
And I’d like to explain all of this to you, so you don’t think I’m weird or rude for denying you what you think of as a God-given right, but frankly it’s exhausting going over this every time I encounter someone new. My life is exhausting enough without adding this extra stress.
Besides, the truth is, you really don’t care. It’s just like when you say “How’s it going?” to someone; it’s a formality – you don’t really want to hear them say “Actually, it sucks. My dog just died and I got fired.” You want them to say “Great!” and move on.
You don’t want to hear that my son is sick, because that disrupts your vision of how this exchange would take place.
I’m not saying you’re heartless – of course not! I’m sure that you really will be sad to hear what my son has to go through, how he suffers, and you will be sympathetic and moved by his story.
But hearing his tale of woe is not the way you thought this would play out, is it?
You thought you’d play with the baby, get a little “baby fix”, engage in the socially approved behavior of complimenting a woman on her gorgeous child, and head on your merry way.
Which is how this SHOULD play out. Except, it can’t.
It just can’t.
And it makes me feel rotten. It reminds me, when my world needs no reminding, that my son is sick. He’s different. The normal world is scary for us, now, and on the rare occasion that I get to engage in that world, I hate being reminded that the best and safest place for us is at home, alone.
Plus, now I know that I’ve brought a big “Debbie Downer” moment into your day, and I don’t like doing that to people. Deflating someone’s balloon is never fun. (Unless it’s helium and you can talk in a funny voice, but that’s sort of a different train of thought.)
But I really can’t get into all of this with you, so I’ll simply say “Please don’t touch my son.”, and let you think I’m overprotective, antisocial, unpleasant, rude, mean, bizarre, or a b***h.
Whatever you want to think, honey. I don’t care.
My sons health isn’t worth risking your touch, and my emotional state can’t handle rehashing our life story for a stranger.
But do me a favor, please? When I’ve told you to not touch my son, don’t. touch. my. son.
Whether you think I’m right, wrong, or insane, I am his Mother. That earns me the right to say what I will and will not allow to happen to him.
It also gives me the right to become really angry when you disobey my request.
So, World at Large?
Don’t Touch My Son.
Hugs, Kisses, and Sunshiny Thanks,
Cradle Rocking Mama
And to close this out on a positive note, thanks to the people in our lives who DO already know all of this and are so very good about not letting Mr. Happy chew on them! You make our lives better by being so respectful and supportive. In case there was ANY confusion, I wrote this about the people who are NOT a part of our lives and DON’T know what our situation is like.