It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Personal space? What is this thing?

Poppy fondles my right breast.

Of course she does. Are there any mother-type people out there who have not been fondled by their little one? Or someone else’s? It’s happened to all of you. I’m quite sure of it.

Put a baby or toddler on your left hip, and sooner or later their little hand just creeps across your body, reaches the slope, rests there and … enjoys the softness. Cups it, caresses, fondles, whatever. I’ve been groped by more small hands in my life than I can possibly recall. I don’t even have to think as I grip their wrist and place their hand gently-but-firmly down at their side. The fending-them-off motion is almost entirely reflexive.

Could I be so very inured to it that I let it continue without noticing it’s happening? Well, given that I notice and stop it in one half-conscious action, with my brain only ever half-engaged… Could there have been times when I simply haven’t noticed at all, when my brain never did engage, not one little bit? Entirely likely.

Has it happened in public? It happens all the time, after all, and I scarcely notice when it does. Happened in public? It is, I am darkly afraid, pretty near a sure thing that I’ve stood in line at a coffee shop while some teenage barrista tried not to notice my breast being stroked and squeezed right before his pimpled face. It’s a wonder my husband’s indulging in pretty much the same activity has any impact on me at all any more, poor man.

But today I noticed. Because today Poppy started with the generic fondle but quickly moved to a precise and painful pinch. Of the nipple. I yelped.

“Ouch! Poppy! Don’t pinch me there! That hurts!” Yes, I said she’d pinched a nipple. She bloody well had, and hard. There is no way, however, I’m giving her that word in context of my body. She knows she has nipples, of course. She knows her mummy and daddy and the other children have nipples, too. But you know, I just don’t want to be there at the end of the day when she tells her daddy, “I pinched at Mary’s nipple!!” as if it’s some sort of Terrific Accomplishment.

Because Poppy? That’s exactly what she’d do. With an “aren’t-I-just-so-smart?!” look on her round face. Poppy’s poor dad, unlike his chattering, decisively enthusiastic daughter, is a very quiet fellow. You could assume he’s unfriendly, but that would be unfair. The man is shy. Shy, shy, shy. Presented with a) his daughter, declaiming about Mary’s nipple and b) Mary, complete with nipples … he just wouldn’t know where to look. Not in my face — the eye contact just then would be excruciating, but — NOT DOWN! DON’T LOOK DOWN! AVERT EYES FROM NIPPLE AREA!!! Must look, um, UP! Yes, UP!

Poor man would try to exit while staring unblinkingly at the ceiling. He’d probably end breaking an ankle, tripping over the door sill. So, no use of the n-word in front of Poppy.

“Ouch! Poppy! That hurt! Don’t pinch me there!”

If I can be fondled and only be half-aware of it, so can toddlers half-consciously fondle. Poppy startles a bit and stares at her hand on my breast. “Oh. I sorry, Mary.”

And then, in a burst of sweet empathy and compassion, the wee toddler on my left hip cups my breast in both pudgy hands, leans forward,

and plants a kiss,

right on the nipple.

“There! All better!”

YOU try telling her that was inappropriate. I dare you. 😀

October 10, 2012 - Posted by | manners, Mischief, Poppy, quirks and quirkiness, socializing | ,


  1. 😀 BWAH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. *wipes tears* Oh, that’s priceless. PRICELESS.

    When Luna first started coming to my house, she was still breastfeeding – for comfort, mostly – and she was very very angry that only my own Baby G was allowed access to the boobs. She would stand in front of me at every feeding, face streaked with tears, wailing piteously “boo! boo! PEAS BOOOOOO!!!!” until feeding time was over. Then she’d scramble up in my lap, patting & snuzzling the goods until I put her down again.

    I don’t even like it much when my own kids do it. Someone else’s kids? Uh, no. We spend a fair bit of time here working on the concept of ‘personal space’. I even call it that – probably in the vain hope that if I repeat the phrase enough times I’ll actually get some in the run of a day.

    Comment by Hannah | October 10, 2012 | Reply

  2. Thank you for that, made my morning. All my male co-workers were wondering why I wouldn’t tell them I was laughing out loud. 😉

    Comment by MelissaV | October 10, 2012 | Reply

  3. LOL. That is so funny, and SO typical of life with small children. Especially when they are other peoples children.

    Comment by dm63114 | October 10, 2012 | Reply

  4. So stinking cute!! Here in the US I have very little infants in my care at times (as young as 6 weeks due to our RIDICULOUS maternity leave policies) – so have had little ones try to latch on as well. Poor things!

    Mary, this is the first comment I’ve made after being an avid reader for 2 years plus. I kept telling myself I’d comment “once my blog was up and running.” I procrastinated with the blog obviously. Anyway, I LOVE your blog. You are my daycare mentor, hands down – although you didn’t know it:) Your stories are so informative and my kiddos often reap the benefits of things I’ve gleaned from your site (ex. “Hands are for hugging, not for hitting”, crafts, etc.)

    I’d love for you to take a look at my blog sometime if you get a chance –

    Thanks for making my nap times fun – it’s when I always check in:) -Lindsey

    Comment by ifihadamillionhours | October 10, 2012 | Reply

  5. LOL I love how few boundaries kids have. Remember Tit Kid?

    [She wracks her middle-aged brain.] Nooooo… I don’t. Is that some manifestation of Owl?

    Comment by IfByYes | October 12, 2012 | Reply

  6. Hi there, followed your blog over from BlogHer (it was linked in a post) and I just wanted to say, this is hilarious. Glo-Worm, my little charge, puts her hand inside my shirt (and her mother’s shirt, and her grandmother’s shirt . . . but that’s it, thank God) and pinches, rolls the skin, and otherwise squeezes my breast until I realize what’s happening and stop it. I remove her hand about a thousand times a day in the same way you just described – that half-conscious “Oh, her hand’s there again”. I get a lot of comments on it from other caregiver friends and parent friends, and it’s embarrassing, but , . . they are babies/toddlers. It’s up to us to gently teach them boundaries. Just wanted to say I related to this post a lot, and I’m going to read through your blog. I really like your style!

    Comment by torontonanny | November 1, 2012 | Reply

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