Last Friday, while at drop-in gymnastics, Oliver and I had stopped at the water fountain to get a much-needed drink of water. (I am aware that any germ haters in the audience are starting to get a little squirmy here). After Oliver was done having his drink, I found myself staring into the face of a (really cute) silent child (we’ll call him Timmy), who seemed to be indicating that he needed me to hold the fountain button for him. So I asked Timmy (the little imp) if this was indeed the case. Timmy nodded so dramatically that I thought he must be dying of thirst. I started to hold the button down.
Just as little Timmy was bowing his head to drink, I hear from behind me a loud and (I’m not even exaggerating here) prolonged:
I turn to see a mother-figure running towards us, practically mowing down little children in her way, a look of total and abject horror on her face. I, of course stopped what I was doing, afraid that the kid had some deathly allergy to water or something. Breathing heavily, the mother looked at little Timmy sternly: “we DON’T like water fountains,” she said, before leading the little tyke a few feet away. She then pulled out a bottle of Purell and wiped little Timmy’s water fountain-y hands off and gave him a sippy cup to quench his thirst. But not before looking at me like I was the most stupid and disgusting person ever to walk the planet.
The subject of germs seems to split parents into two factions. The ones who care (note here: the ones who care, generally seem to REALLY care), and the ones who are more, well, meh. You can probably already guess which camp I fall into. Meh.
I feel that I should point out here, that I know that there are germs in water fountains. Lots of ’em. Yes, I’m sure you could even get Hepatitis A, or something equally unfun. But you could also get Hepatitis A from eating in a restaurant. I like eating in restaurants. And every now and again, I like to drink from a water fountain. And so does Oliver.
While we are on the topic of germs, I also feel compelled to admit that I (and consequently my children) are lackadaisical hand washers. Yes, I’m trying to teach them to wash their hands after they pee, etc. But if we’re out and about, you won’t catch me wiping their hands with a bottle of Purell or diaper wipes.
I, for one, would rather my kids ingest a little park dirt (even dog poo tinged park dirt) than have them ingest say: Ethyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Carbomer, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Isopropyl Myrisate, which are the main ingredients in Purell. Or Propylene Glycol, Methylparaben, Propyl Paraben, Disodium Cocamphodiacetate, Polysorbate 20, and last but not least 2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, which are commonly found ingredients found in baby wipes.
Call me crazy, but I’m feeding my kids dirt and pond scum and yes, even dog poop, before I’m feeding them 2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol. Because substances with names that have numbers and hyphens and are virtually unpronounceable do not belong in children. Hell, now that I’ve taken the time to write all of those ingredients down, I’m quite certain they don’t even belong on my kid’s asses. I’ll take my chances with the dirt and grime and grossness from nature (and, I will admit somewhat sheepishly, from my house), thank you very much.
To tell you the truth, though, even if there were an all natural, perfectly edible hand sanitizer, I’d still probably let my kids eat the dirt. For one, I’d forget. I’m awfully absent minded about those sorts of things. And for another. I just don’t care that much. And there it is, my dirty little secret. My kids get dirty. They probably eat dirt. They live in a usually dirty house that hasn’t (and won’t) see any antibacterial lotions or washes of wipes or sprays). I hose ’em down occasionally (along with the house). And you know what? They’re pretty healthy little buggers. Almost never sick. So it seems to be working alright.
My partner’s grandpa used to say “you gotta eat a pound of dirt before you die.”
Now that’s a philosophy I can get behind.