Crossing Mason Dixon

Please Don’t Wipe my Child’s Face

It happened again, the cashier at Wal-Mart beside herself trying to help me wipe my kids’ faces. They are so messy! She exclaims. Oh my gosh let me see what I have to help you, digging for paper towels. I look at my kids, enjoying a frosted donut. They look fine to me. Happy even.

Oh, they are ok I say. Just let me get that little bit of frosting she leans in to our stroller with a paper towel. Please don’t I start lauging. I don’t know why everyone keeps trying to wipe their faces.

She stops mid wipe and stares at us. So I ask her, laughing, why does everyone try to wipe their faces. She is confused, because they are a mess she says.

My children, a mess? Yes, they are. Just another Wednesday. Frosting all over their little faces because we stoppped at dunkin donuts, it’s free donut day.

I am surprised how messy children bother people. Like it really really bothers some people to see choolate on a childs face. Are you one of those people? No judgement if you are. To me messy faces and kids go hand in hand. It would never cross my mind to wipe someone elses’ child’s face, especially if I don’t know them. But I am messier than most.

It always surprises me, someone notices us, three little kids in a wagon and insists on helping me wipe their faces. Never mind the toddler hitting her brother with a bottle of shampoo or the other throwing paper towels out of the cart, messy faces!, that’s the priority here. I always wonder if they have kids. If they fed their kids donuts as they walked through a store and if they did, if they brought a wet rag with them everywhere they went. Baby wipes probably.

I told Tom about this and about the women before the cashier who bent over with a rough paper towel and wiped Edith’s face commenting on what a mess she was and exclaiming in disbelif that little Edith was chewing on her brother’s shoe. I was getting blood work drawn. She’s a twin I laughed, she’ll be alright.

Just wipe their faces he says. Then it won’t matter.

He is probably right. But also, I have not watched him walk three kids through wal-mart while getting a prescriptions, remembering the grocery list and feeding them breakfast. Or maybe if he did he would do it with baby wipes in hand, I’m not sure.

I’m working on it I say. I did recently have a conviction that wiping little faces is an act of love for my children to keep them clean and comfortable. So I get it. And it doesn’t take very long to wipe a little face. But stronger than my desire to keep my children clean is my desire to let my kids, be kids. Donuts and all. Sticky, messy sometimes with dirty little faces, kids.

So, if you see us in the store with sticky hands and messy faces, please don’t wipe my babies’ faces.

I know you want to help, but the klenexx in your purse isn’t going to work. Maybe you can’t see past the mess on their face but these children are having a really good day and in a world where messes are quick to be wiped away, I’m content to let them stay this way. Not forever, no not at all, it goes by so fast after all. Isn’t that the thing you always say? Enjoy those kids while they’re young, soon they’ll be too big for that cart.

I promise I won’t let them get it all over Wal-mart.

But no, please don’t wipe my child’s face. Even though it looks out of place. Not in the grocery store, not in the parking lot, because I know it looks like I forgot but I assure you, I did not. We are just getting through our day and these messy little children, I promise they are going to be okay. I know you just want to help and that’s very kind but eating a donut, with frosting all over your face don’t you think it taste better that way?

Please Don’t Wipe my Child’s Face

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