- By Leslie Gray Streeter Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
OMG babies, amiright? They’re so ridiculously cute, with their little fat arms and legs, their teeny tiny socks and shoes, and their sweet baby smell. They’re ridiculously adorable that it’s almost impossible not to reach into their strollers and just give them a kiss, or squeeze their little baby hands.
It’s almost impossible. But WPTV-News Channel 5 meteorologist and father of two Glenn Glazer insists that you try.
“It’s amazing how comfortable people feel just walking up and putting their hands on other people’s babies,” says Glazer, who along with his illustrator, WPTV morning anchor and close friend Ashleigh Walters, presents “Don’t Touch My Baby,” a Dr. Seuss/Shel Silverstein-inspired reminder that other people’s children are best loved from afar.
“It’s meant to be tongue-in-cheek. I get it. They’re cute. But if it’s not your baby, or you’re not related to them, don’t.”
Based on true events from Glazer’s own tales of parenthood and real interactions with kids Jude, 4, and Gwen, 2, the book addresses encounters with which most modern parents will nod their head in bewildered recognition. Depicted in Walters’ simple and effective images are horror-comedic depictions of eager strangers touching little baby hands and feet, rubbing their heads, putting their fingers in their mouths and even giving the baby a dirty used handkerchief, an amazingly disgusting thing Glazer swears happened to him and his child.
“Some of our friends think we’re crazy,” he says of himself and wife Tasha, and their vigilance in stopping the likely well-meaning but potentially germ-carrying public from getting too close. “But we do what we can.”
He says that as a kid, he learned about germs and “all the things on your skin that you can’t see” and resolved to “keep my hands clean.” But parenthood, as many moms and dads will attest to, heightens one’s awareness of every threat, real or imagined, to the health and well-being of little ones. Those fears began with child classes he and wife Tasha took when expecting Jude, their first child, with subjects “from vaccinations to whooping cough. And all we could think was ‘How are we going to keep this baby clean?’”
Their pediatrician, Glazer says, calmed them by reminding that “that every single baby gets sick but that as a parent, it’s your job to keep them from getting really, really sick.” And that job, the Glazers believe, starts with limiting the germs and illnesses their kids encounter.
In fact, anyone who’s ever seen Glazer out at various community events with his family might recall that when Jude was a baby, his parents attached a sign to his stroller asking well-wishers please not to touch his little hands and feet. He says that he and wife Tasha mean absolutely no disrespect to people who find their children adorable - “It’s weirdly flattering.” he says.
Also, he and Walters both acknowledge that in less germ-phobic times, that sort of tactical display of affection was culturally acceptable, even expected. But with the very real threat of disease and sickness, including this season’s very real and deadly flu, the book serves as a gentle and clever reminder to keep your hands and lips to yourself.
Walters, who is not a parent but has “eight nieces and nephews,” says she took pains not to portray the curious and adoring baby-loving people as “monsters. They’re loving people, coming from a good place, who haven’t accepted that you don’t touch babies or pregnant women’s bellies.”
The two colleagues have been friends since Walters came to WPTV almost seven years ago. Glazer says he was drawn not only to her sweet, welcoming personality, “like biscuits and gravy, or hot buttered grits, like comfort food,” but her considerable talents as a visual artist, especially as a painter. Walters wound up recreating Winnie-The-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood from E.E. Milne’s and Walt Disney’s stories on the walls of young Jude’s nursery.
“Don’t Touch My Baby” is Glazer’s first book targeted at adults, and was published through his own company, “A Walk With Camden,” named for his beloved late dog. He and Walters have an upcoming project, inspired by that precious pet, called “Cam and Marc Go To The Park,” about a fanciful and rewarding friendship between two dogs of different cultures - one speaks English, the other Spanish.
So far, the response to “Don’t Touch My Baby” has been positive from fellow parents who say “‘OMG, that’s so real! This thing happened to me!’” Glazer says. “I want them to know they’re not alone, because they might think ‘Am I crazy? Is this socially acceptable or is it just me?’”
It’s not. Especially that dirty used handkerchief thing, because come on.