Social Question

RedPowerLady's avatar

How would you feel about someone making silly faces with your child?

Asked by RedPowerLady (12454 points ) October 26th, 2009

Say you are in line at the grocery store and your child seems particularly interested in the person behind you. They are kid-friendly and make funny faces to amuse your child. Would this bother you? Would you have any concerns?

I will be upfront and say I do this often with children when they stare at me. Most parents could care less or seem to find it amusing. However there is always one or two who seem to think it is awful and thus I stop as it is their child (but the damage has already been done as their kid has just learned a new face to make and often keeps making it even as the parent wheels them out of line). The parents who get concerned are the ones who give me pause about doing it. but i don’t think i’ll stop just the same

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51 Answers

sjmc1989's avatar

I don’t have a child personally but it has always made me feel uncomfortable when people do this. I would rather them just speak to child not just make faces. Only my opinion though. Like it even matters :)

Facade's avatar

If the kid is just staring, I’ll stare back. If they’re having a good time, I’ll try to make em laugh more. Laughing kids are cute :) My man however, will make faces at kids. They get scared…

SpatzieLover's avatar

I love it. And, I employ the same behavior @RedPowerLady. The grocery store is a difficult errand with a small child. Their patience just isn’t built for the shopping and the line. (Nor is mine most of the time)

My son may play along, be bashful, or tell you his life story depending on how much he feels at ease with your playfulness.

janbb's avatar

My husband doe this all the time – particularly to kids sitting behind us on planes. I think it’s great for kids to interact with other adults and have a fun encounter. Presumably you stop if the kids or the parents don’t respond well.

sjmc1989's avatar

I want to add I would never shoot someone a dirty look over this I just prefer talking

jca's avatar

i have a toddler and whatever keeps her happy or distracted is fine with me. at any minute she might decide she wants out of the cart and then it’s trouble. if she is preoccupied with someone else that’s great.

i will smile at a kid in a cart if he or she looks at me. i’ll respond if the kid is trying to tell me or show me something. otherwise i will ignore the child.

shockrocks's avatar

I think if it’s not openly rude (which I highly doubt it is) and the appropriate “safety boundaries” are clearly defined (which I’m sure they are)... then there’s nothing wrong with it in the least if the child doesn’t have a problem with it.

Some parents make mountains out of mole hills imho =/

deni's avatar

I don’t think I would mind. There’s no reason that the parents should be the only ones who make silly faces at the kid, right? Usually I just wave though and smile.

jlm11f's avatar

If the child is sitting on the shopping cart, then I’ll say hello or make funny faces for him/her. If however, the child is mobile, then I try to ignore him because otherwise they usually end up following me around the store and then the poor parents keep having to run after them and constantly apologize to me (even though I don’t care at all!). This seriously happens every single time.

As for the title Q, if it was my kid, I wouldn’t mind. Positive social interaction is good and healthy for the kid and it’s never too early to start.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@janbb Yes I stop right away if that happens. Just want to make sure all know that.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I don’t see the harm in it unless a person is paying too much attention to the child.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Wow, I’m loving the personal opinions :) Thank you very much.

eponymoushipster's avatar

If the kid is staring or seems amicable, ill smile or make a face. Usually you can tell looking at the parent/caregiver if it’ll fly or not. Sometimes if a kid is staring, ill do a little “bye bye” wave or something. usually that gets a response from the kid.

i can see why people might be upset, however, and why you need to be judicious about this. In a world of kiddie diddlers and Law and Order:SVU, someone might misconstrue your friendliness, and think you’re a pervo.

YARNLADY's avatar

I would use my words, like I always advise small children, and say to the child “Sometimes people we don’t know are friendly, but we don’t know anyone here at this store, so maybe I should ask them their name”.

aphilotus's avatar

I try to give kids the evil eye when they look right at me. Put the fear of witches into them!

SpatzieLover's avatar

@aphilotus My son has little fear of witches. He’ll be going as the Wicked Witch of the West again this weekend for treating. ;P

SuperMouse's avatar

I have no problem at all with this.

avvooooooo's avatar

@SpatzieLover I love your kid. I’d make faces at him all day! :D

Clair's avatar

It depends on how fun the child looks and how scary the parents look. I love to have fun with any kid. If they’re willing, I’ll make faces at them or do something silly. On rare occasion, if they’re getting too far away from they’re parents and I’m feeling evil, I’ll follow too closely behind them or ‘rev’ my cart up at them. This always works and sometimes I’ll get a laugh out of them.
There are boundaries and hints you have to take before you even try to communicate with a strangers child.

jonsblond's avatar

I would thank them for entertaining my child.

Children need to know that it’s ok to be silly now and then

trailsillustrated's avatar

when I used to travel with my children on planes I thought it was fun for people to do this. Now I do it on planes, just silly hide behind the seat and pop out games. My children loved it, parents don’t seem to mind, they like the attention.

casheroo's avatar

I don’t care at all, as long as they don’t touch my kid…that’s the only thing that bothers me.
I feel bad, my son is very shy of strangers and he refuses to talk to them..they’ll ask his name and he just stares and ignores them (he is perfectly capable of telling people his name, but he refuses to do so unless he knows you/wants to) So, I then have to talk to these people and tell them his name. I prefer the faces.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

I agree with @casheroo. Touching just crosses the line. I’ve definitely witnessed some unsettling interactions that involve contact. Even if the adult tries to initiate conversation, it seems a bit too intrusive.

For my part, I only respond with some change in expression if a kid seems particularly interested. That often prompts the child to tell me something about his- or herself, and then I carry on a harmless dialogue. I seem to be a life-story magnet. :D

My only limit pushing comes in a very specialized habit. I try to teach infants who are just mastering their motor control to wink in hopes that they do it later for their parents and really freak them out. I’m sad that I can’t witness the eventual reactions though.

When I have children, I can’t see why I would mind my practices coming from another adult.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I never touch a strangers child without being invited and even then it would have to make sense. However there was a time when I found a lost child in the supermarket, about 3–4 years old. I held his hand till he found his mother.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@RedPowerLady THAT is exactly what we’ve been telling (or trying to get through) to our 4yr old. Find a “mommy” where you’re lost and ask her for help! Good job!

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@RedPowerLady Oh that makes perfect sense. Contextually appropriate.

casheroo's avatar

@RedPowerLady Oh, that sort of touching doesn’t bother me…it’s the cheek grabbing, or touching their hands (like shaking them or trying to play with them)...when everyone knows that toddlers/infants stick their fingers in their mouths ALL the time. It’s just unsanitary and makes me want to wash my kids hands asap.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Thanks gals :) The poor kid was at the bulk candy hiding in the isle stuffing candy in his mouth, lol.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@RedPowerLady That visual is adorably sweet! That store video could make money!

derekfnord's avatar

To be completely blunt, I think parents who get upset about this need to unclench. We live in a world full of people. Their children live in it too. Someone responding (in a non-threatening way) to their child with them present) should be absolutely fine. If a child smiles at me, I’ll smile back. If they seem amused by me, I’ll make a funny face. It hurts nothing and no one. We don’t need to shelter kids in safety bubbles to hide them from the world, fer cryin’ out loud…

avvooooooo's avatar

I found one in Old Navy, about 3, hiding behind a rack of clothes crying. I asked him if he knew where his adult was and he didn’t so I pointed to the manager and got him to walk with me over to her where I reported a “lost mommy.” Even then, I didn’t touch him because I didn’t need to. I’ve been known to make faces or even dance for kids who are being dragged around, but I’ve never touched one without them coming up to me and grabbing on (I guess I looked like this one toddler’s mom from behind).

Judi's avatar

My daughter (an adult) likes to sit in the front row in church and stick her tongue out at the acolytes. She has even had a few stick their tongue out back at her!

knitfroggy's avatar

At work I do this all the time. Kids are always being pushed by in shopping carts and I will wave and say HI! or make a funny face. I stop and talk to kids all the time, because they make me laugh and it kinda brightens my day if it’s shitty. There are a few kids that I even know on a first name basis, just because I see them so often and we will usually visit, even if it’s a small child, I’ll talk to them and the parents. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a bad reaction from a parent, but maybe it’s because I’m an employee. I dunno.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@knitfroggy, “I stop and talk to kids all the time, because they make me laugh and it kinda brightens my day if it’s shitty.”

This^^^^Is why I remind my son to say Hi to our UPS man & our mail carriers. They need positive human interaction!

knitfroggy's avatar

@SpatzieLover That’s awesome! Some days when I feel like everyone at work is either down my throat or up my butt all it takes is a cute little 18 month old in a shopping cart to say “HI!!”, and smile and wave to kind of get me out of it!

SpatzieLover's avatar

@knitfroggy Our UPS man, Todd, and our usual mailman, Chris, have told my son & I that “his smile and chatter” makes their day :)....man they get nothing but complaints from customers and are both under GPS/computer surveillance on the job :(

knitfroggy's avatar

@SpatzieLover While I have a completely different kind of job, I know what they are talking about. I work in Customer Service at a retail store and I supervise a bunch of people at work. I literally get my butt chewed by at least 10 people a day. I feel the UPS man’s pain to an extent…

avvooooooo's avatar

@SpatzieLover I used to babble to babies for quite some time when I was working at a large, well-known seafood chain. They babble back, we had whole conversations!

SpatzieLover's avatar

@avvooooooo my son was an early talker. he probably would’ve asked why me why you couldn’t understand English ;P

aprilsimnel's avatar

I smile broadly when I see little children in a queue. If they’re infants, I’ll make faces. The children smile back, giggle and make faces back at me. I can’t recall a parent minding that I did these things, but, frankly, part of that is because I’m a reasonably attractive and small woman. If I were a 6’ 5” man who looked like Quasimodo, I might get a different parental reaction, yes?

pinkparaluies's avatar

I don’t particularly like children to begin with. So.. no I don’t make the silly faces. More like avoid eye contact haha

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@aprilsimnel Nope. For me (in the tall, “scary” man case,) as long as you didn’t initiate a creepy conversation, or touch my kid, I wouldn’t react any differently. @aphilotus is a large beared man standing at 6’5”, but (when he’s not covertly giving them the evil eye…) parents don’t react strangely to him.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Well, then “no” is a great answer! :D Which is good to know. Kids are so open, it’s nice to see parents can be, too.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@aprilsimnel Actually, some pretty big, burly men have had interesting conversations with my son regarding: his cuteness, his WoZ obsession, his scarecrow overalls… ;D

ShanEnri's avatar

It didn’t bother me in the least when they were little. Now, watch out they make faces back!

Gundark's avatar

If a small child catches my eye, or is looking at me, I will often try to play some kind of game, like making faces, or hiding behind someone and popping out. Kids love games, and I feel like I’m helping parents out by keeping their children occupied. Making them smile is my reward; a child’s smile is a beautiful thing.

Most small kids seem to enjoy it, though some are more timid than others. I’ve never had parents respond negatively; usually they smile, and look to see how their child is responding. As @janbb pointed out, it’s prudent to stop if either a child or parent doesn’t respond well.

MissAusten's avatar

I don’t mind if people make faces at my kids or talk to them. They just better be prepared for a large investment of time, because once my kids start talking, they don’t stop. They just keep rambling, even if you have no desire to hear about Pokemon or Webkinz or the time the snake bit my son or the time a stray cat tried to eat our pet rabbit. Seriously, people are better off not making eye contact with my kids unless they have several minutes to kill.

There are some paranoid parents out there, but I think most of us are still reasonable. :)

Val123's avatar

Some people are so dang uptight! I remember once when my daughter was about 2 and In Training. We were in the second hand store. There was a potty training chair on one low shelf right in front of us, and she ran toward it dropping her pants as she went! I mean, I caught her and put her clothes back on, but I was laughing…but this one old lady beside me was just horrified and SO disapproving! I wanted to yell, “lighten up!” (PS, I did get her to the bathroom right away! My daughter, I mean. Not the horrified lady, although she was probably constipated and could have used a few hours in the bathroom)
Just keep doing what you’re doing.

knitfroggy's avatar

@Val123 That story reminds me of a story my mom has told me a million times. I was about 2 and we were out looking at manufactured homes on a lot. My folks were looking in other rooms and I went in the bathroom and pooped in the toilet. It wasn’t hooked up to anything, the house was on a lot. Mom said she was so embarrassed that they just left the place.

Val123's avatar

LAUGH OUT LOUD @knitfroggy I love it!

Narl's avatar

Keep making faces! This world will be a dark and dreary place if we don’t have a little fun.

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