September 28, 2010
A Mother, An Infant and Hand Sanitizer
There I was at the usual place, usual time, and usual day of the week, doing the usual while watching the most unusual spectacle. I was at Target shopping for superfluous items on my shopping list (How many more windex wipes do I really need?), and there she was. A brand new Mama (I bet), feeding her less than four-month-old infant hand sanitizer. Yes, hand sanitizer.
An interesting choice of drinks I thought, just as Mommy yelled at the new born to “stop drinking the cleanser.” Did Mommy Dearest think that her daugther would know better when she was the one who inserted the ‘closed’ bottle of hand sanitizer in her mouth to stop her crying. What was she thinking?
I watched as Mommy Dearest interacted (or barely interacted, rather) with her daughter. I stood close by with my son who was browsing through the books. She was sipping her ice blended coffee drink, while awaiting her digital photos to print (what is it with these moms and their iced coffee drinks?) She was clearly more interested in her iced coffee than her child’s safety. Her daughter was getting restless in the shopping cart as she sat trapped in her car seat surrounded by miscellaneous items from Target. She started crying. Go figure. Boredom? Hunger? Claustrophobia? Or a little of all three?
Instead of reaching into her gigantic bag o’ goodies (a.k.a. her diaper bag), she reached into the cart and shuffled through the ruff until she found the perfect pacifier; a small bottle of hand sanitizer. (It was a closed bottle of hand sanitizer of course.) She placed it in the infant’s mouth and carried on shuffling through digital photos she was printing. I was in shock, but held back from saying anything. What makes me the all-knowing mother who knows what is right for someone else’s child anyhow? But, hand sanitizer? I kept my mouth shut, (barely) as I watched the infant soothe herself by sucking on the Purell bottle cap. I wanted to yank the bottle out of the infant’s little chubby fingers, but decided against it.
Then the infant began sucking louder and louder. Hoping to have her lunch, be it sanitizer even. Then she began to cry. (Why wasn’t this new bottle working?) Mama needed help. I tried to stop staring at the spectacle as I read with my son now. Finally, Mommy Dearest reached into her huge diaper bag (what was in there and why wasn’t she using any of it for her daughter?). She pulled out a large bottle of formula and waved it in front of her daughter’s face, as if teasing her. The infant reached for it and kicked her legs with glee. (I was about to do the same.) Mama placed the bottle in her mouth for a mere five seconds. And just when the baby seemed to settle, Mommy yanked the bottle our of her hands, recapped it and placed it back in the diaper bag. Instantaneously the infant starting crying again, only this time it was much louder. At this point I was not sure if the infant was crying because she actually wanted the milk bottle or had just realized that she was stuck with Mommy Dearest for the long haul.
Mommy reached back for the bottle of Purell and placed it in the child’s mouth. I was livid. Why couldn’t she drink the milk? Why did she tease her with it? Was she saving it to add to her own Frappuccino later? I had to say something. (I kept telling myself: Mihal, don’t do it, don’t do it.) So, I didn’t….not yet anyway.
I didn’t have to. Surprisingly, (not really) the Purell bottle cap flew open and the infant stopped immediately as she had her first taste of hand sanitizer. (Surprise, surprise.) Without any remorse for having literally fed her daughter the sanitizer, Mommy yelled, “Now look what you’ve done.” (What she’s done?) The mom wiped the baby’s chin of Purell (luckily she hadn’t swallowed its entire content). The infant screamed louder and louder. I had to butt in now. “Hold on, hold on!” the mother kept shouting.
I placed my son in the shopping cart. And since there was no Purell in sight to entertain him, I let him choose a book to read instead. I headed over to Mommy Dearest angrily. All the while thinking about what I was going to say. Perhaps, “Excuse me, but maybe next time you should try the hand sanitizer and give her your Frappuccino instead.” But instead, I walked over to the mom excused myself and said, “Now that she is sanitized, perhaps it is finally time for that bottle of milk. I’m just saying.” I didn’t wait for a response.
Mommy gave me an angry look as she reached in her gigantic bag for the bottle again. Mommy was clearly angry, but baby was finally happy…and so was I.