Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Can't Touch This!

Small children are such a mystery. Infants, toddlers, even preschool and kindergartners - their minds work in such odd and interesting ways, sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, but often unpredictable. They learn new ways of talking and being from us, but then they mix them up in such strange ways, like aliens coming here and trying to fit in with the humans, but occasionally wearing their pajamas to work or talking to mailboxes about what letters taste like. Every time our baby girl gets a new tic or obsession, we laugh at how she connected those particular dots and wonder how long it will last before she figures it out or gives it up.

The newest trend is now saying "Don't touch!" for everything. I don't know if she's really concerned about what she thinks of as her property, or if she's heard us tell her this so many times that she wants in on the game, or if she genuinely thinks that she's living with a bunch of thieves and vandals who want nothing more than to steal or otherwise wreck her personal property. Whatever it is, she feels the need to stress the point daily now. If she needs to go change or try to use the potty while she's playing, she might put down her toy, point her finger at whoever is closest and say, " Don't touch my Cookie Monster." Or if she puts down her sippy cup for even a second to cross the room and get a book, it's "Don't touch my cup." Or it could be personal space and body ownership. "Don't touch my feet," when you're putting on her shoes, or "Don't touch my ears," when you take off her shirt.

Does she really think that everyone else in the house, ages ranging from 14 to 41, is really desperately waiting for her to put down her fairy wand so we can snatch it up and prance around with it? I've heard of convicts released from prison still guarding their food whenever they eat, out of habit, but is it really that rough and merciless in day care? Do you have to watch your back so vigilantly in the two-year-old class because any toy left unattended for even a moment is lost forever?

It really created a problem for us, especially when it comes to the body issue, because we started teaching her months ago not to let anyone touch her private parts, that that's not okay, only for Mommy and Daddy (or a few others) and only when changing her diaper or washing her. We also choose not to force her to touch anyone or kiss anyone or hug anyone, because we don't want to give her the impression that people have a right to her body. So, I kind of get the "Don't touch my butt," or "Don't touch my elbow," outbursts, but what am I supposed to make of the "Don't touch my bed" or "Don't touch my remote," moments? I mean, it's not even her remote!

And the whole situation is actually another piece of evidence that humans are just wicked. I say this, not because of some sort of greed or mistrust on her part, but because whenever she gets on the "Don't touch my umbrella" soapbox, all I want to do is touch that umbrella. I want to get my fingers all over that umbrella and show her that she's not the boss of me, that I can touch the umbrella if I want to, and there's nothing she can do about it. It's like forbidden fruit - as soon as she tells me not to touch it, the devil in me rises up and wants to not only manhandle it, but let her see me do it. So I find myself mentally torturing a two-year-old by hovering over her umbrella like Nosferatu while she screams, "No! Don't touch it!" Then I give it the tiniest of touches and we both start laughing. Maybe it's not evil in me, or at least I hope it isn't. Maybe I just need to prove to myself that she isn't really that materialistic or mistrustful yet.

Or maybe I just enjoy teasing her.

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