Today I have a confession. There is a reaction I’ve been having towards specific people that I viewed as just “normal.” Nothing took place to initiate this response, it was just simply automatic to me and I was sure that it was a common response by all parents. It rarely happened, probably because it’s “not supposed to,” and so most of the days our family went about our lives without having to experience THAT. What is it? It’s the emotional, and somewhat physical, response that my body experiences when a man whom I do not really know, perhaps even a complete stranger, wants to hold my baby. Red flags go off in my head. My eyes begin to dart all around. My mind races wondering, “Why is he approaching us? What does he want? What is his reason for touching my child?” Now, these thoughts do sometimes strike me when it is a female interacting with my son, but I openly admit that I experience the discomfort way more when it is a man. And in my mind, this was justified. The stories flooding the media, circling social groups and blackening the pages of the newspaper seem to almost always lead towards a man abducting, hurting, or even killing, a child. So, putting all of those pieces together, I thought my response in these situations was fully justified. I was being aware and alert to keep my child safe.
And then slowly, things changed.