As I was preparing the entry dealing with all the things my Wife puts up with, one or two items were left off to save space (I'm verbose as it is), but the intent was to share them as part of an ersatz sequel post. So there I metaphorically sat, compiling part deux, and more so than the first list, this one was turning into "things total strangers do when faced with a pregnant woman." The queue grew and suddenly it dawned on me, a majority of the list not only constituted irritants to my Wife, but under any circumstances other than her being pregnant, this stuff bordered on misdemeanor assault (trust me, we're going somewhere with this). Now, remember, we're not talking about family members or friends here, we're discussing absolute strangers approaching on the street. I considered whether this was simply my deep Cave-Man Brain asserting itself and triggering the "me protect family" reflex (I can hear my Mother-in-Law, Sidney's Nana, chuckling "or not so deep..."). To eliminate this possibility, I would imagine the same interaction sans the baby belly and, wouldn't you know it, an "encounter with a friendly stranger" turns into "call the police, this guy/gal is nuts." Let's run the big ones down:
1) Walking up and touching the belly: This one is a no brainer. Think about it, you're standing on the subway/line at the supermarket/getting insulted at Starbucks by the barrista and someone walks up, says "ooooh, how cute!" and starts rubbing your belly. Is your reaction "harmless moment" or "what the hell do you thing you're doing?!" I know, some of you are saying "but most people ask before rubbing the belly" or "Oh, come on, it is no more offensive than a hug." To you I say, remove the baby and does that make it ok? Asking for permission before you grope the stranger absolves the inappropriate conduct? Hugging random strangers is ok because it is "inoffensive?" Well hot damn, someone get me over to the supermarket the next time Charlize Theron is shopping, I'm going to ask to rub her belly, rub it and then ambush hug her. You know what people would call me? The defendant, that's what. My Wife, bless her kind nature, smiles and declines (when asked) or tries not to freak out when it is Assault 3 ... er ... I mean a reach-and-touch-without-asking. Personal space people, quit feeling up strangers.
2) Asking the baby's sex and name: Hear me out on this one, because I can hear the objections on my criticizing this "harmless" question. We're not talking about you seeing an adorable child in a stroller or walking with Mommy and Daddy, and the child looks up and makes eye contact and engages you in some level of human contact. The child is in utero, the only contact you are having is with a belly. You say "innocent question" I say "if a total stranger is asking questions about your child's genitalia, red flags usually go up." The follow up question, since you are a polite person and answer the first (I still proffer wholly inappropriate one), is "what are you going to name him/her?" and is disturbing for a different reason: a total stranger is asking for information that generally is employed for identity verification purposes. Should I tell you my mother's maiden name and the name of my first pet while we are at it? Remember, this is not a neighbor that will see you and the child regularly, or a co-worker or an acquaintance, this is a damn stranger asking you about your kid's junk and their name. Perverts and identity thieves, that's what they would be minus the gestating life.
3) Asking if you will have the boy circumcised: This one flows from Number 2, obviously, and it gets asked more often than you'd think. I give it its own entry, despite it falling squarely within "why are you asking about my child's sexual organs", because, well quite frankly, it boggles my mind. Not content with simply finding out that my child has a penis, you now want to know an even more personal piece of information regarding it. And if you say "oh, maybe it is a veiled attempt at finding out your religion", well I have three answers to that: (a) it's a really awkward way to ask a pretty straightforward question; (b) it is not a definitive way to tell religion, unless you ask if a mohel is performing the procedure, and even then it is not 100% determinative (we live in NYC, it's a melting pot folks), and (c) you're a stranger asking about my child's genitalia. Ok, so maybe I was trying to get more mileage out of that humorous/disturbing thought, but seriously, stop asking about my kid's junk.
4) Asking if the baby will be breast feeding: A stranger asking about a woman's boobs. That's what this is, plain and simple. While we are on this, let's add "are you going to have a Cesarean?" for obvious reasons. If asking about either of these areas is ok, then add "asking about her boobs/hoo-ha" to my Charlize Theron supermarket run-in. Now, I don't practice criminal law, but I am relatively certain "but, she's pregnant your honor" is not a defense to Sexual Harassment in the Third Degree. So, I offer this simple rule of thumb: quit asking about the baby and the mother's genitalia.
As a closing thought, I just want to offer that we're down to the final week (T-Minus 6 days to be exact) and that if I miss a post it is likely because the Wife is in labor/has just had the baby. Follow me on Twitter (button above) because I will likely be doing a live stream as we go to the hospital and Sidney makes his way out. Also, seriously, stop asking questions' about stranger's kid's junk.