As I’ve mentioned before, Nia is VERY popular here. Almost too popular, if I’m being honest (although who am I to shy away from attention). This outpouring of love for her shows up in a variety of ways, most of which would make an American parent squirm. Today, for instance, we were out in public for roughly 3 hours and she attracted the following interactions:
-2 strangers kissed her face
-2 brought her hand to their mouth and kissed it
-1 wanted to give her a treat
-Somewhere between 15-20 people stopped to make faces at her and ask questions (ie: how old, how many teeth, etc)
-4 strangers asked to hold her
And so this brings me to the decision point that many of my Expat friends have stood at – specifically, what is my policy about stranger interactions with my child? I’ve observed this problem in the past and seen people take a variety of responses to it. Some allow their children to be touched and held whenever, others make excuses about the child being shy with strangers, some straight-up decline and others keep their kid on them at all times in a body carrier so it’s hard to touch/take the child.
So Where Do I Stand?
I’m somewhere in the middle. Any dummy could see that my daughter LOVES the attention. I also enjoy seeing the joy she brings to other people. I also tend to be trusting and believe that people have good intentions. So my natural inclination is to allow the majority of interactions. For example, today I allowed everything but the treat. That being said, I check in with my intuition before handing her over and I also try to limit holding to confined spaces like a coffee shop. Her safety is my first priority, but I also want to be an interactive part of the culture we live in, and in Peru that means showing affection toward babies. Hopefully that won’t end up biting me in the butt…
I’d love to hear how other people have dealt with this phenomenon and if you have any interesting stories to share regarding it.