Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Germs

One of the first things I need to explain a bit, in order that you may understand later posts, is my issue with Germs. Not any Germs mind you; not mine, or my kids, not Germs that come from people I know (as in, I'm happy to share a straw with my sisters, or pick up that last bite of brownie from the floor using the ol' "five-second-rule,") but specifically Potty Germs, Stranger Germs, and Public Germs.

One of my successes as a parent stems from the fact that I have taught both my children how to use a public restroom without physically touching any surface at all. Much to the dismay of my husband, who, upon returning from a very long bathroom stop with my son, announced to me that the reason it took so long was because our son "was trying to flush the toilet with his foot, and wouldn't touch the handle."
"So?" I replied.
"So?" My husband said. "Then he grabbed the door with the sleeve of his sweatshirt."
At this point I'm sure my husband was looking for me to be aghast with horror, that our son has some kind of OCD issue at the age of 8, was looking for some type of affirmation that he was correct in being dismayed by this.
"I taught him that," I replied. (Smiling on the inside of course) At which point my husband shot me that I-can't-believe-you've-dragged-our-kids-into-your-phobic-world-and-this-is-really-not-healthy look, and I shot the Everyone-needs-counseling-anyway look right back at him and the conversation was over.

Maybe this stems from the time I walked in on my 17 month-old daughter sucking on the toilet seat and I actually thought, Would CPS frown on me swishing her mouth out with some 100 proof? If that's not vision enough to put a germ-phobic mom right into needing medication, I don't know what is.

Port-a-potty's are another source of incredible discomfort for me. First, there is no running water and/or soap. Second, if it is one lucky enough to be equipped with hand sanitizer, it is usually empty. Third, it smells, there are flies everywhere (the very same flies I might add that land on your picnic-potato-salad) and most people don't respect them and well, waste is everywhere.

How many of you grew up being told to "line the seat with toilet paper?" That was one of my mother's mantras, right after, "Buckle up," and "Are their parents home?" I have happily lined toilet seats for over thirty years and have passed this beautiful tradition on to my children. I don't care how many experts tell me that no communicable diseases can be caught from bum-germs on a toilet seat, I am not going to believe them.

Did you know that over 1/3 of people who use public restrooms DON'T WASH THEIR HANDS? Think about that the next time you grab for that door handle. Or use the port-a-potty.

Which brings me to Stranger Germs/Public Germs. Door handles (again), elevator buttons, escalator hand railings (do you know what they have found on those things?), public indoor play spaces (at the mall, fast food restaurants-Anything containing a ball pit-never, never, never let them in a ball pit) cigarette ashtrays and trash cans. There is nothing quite like seeing your child go to throw something away and holding the snap-back-at-you trash can lid open with the palm of their hand. All that black sticky goo, smudges of what can only be described as sickly brown and yellow, not to mention people that haven't washed their hands who have thrown something away...I have tried to show my children how to hold open the lid with a napkin and quickly throw away their trash before the lid snaps back at them sending filth and Germs flying, but let's face it. I'm lucky if the trash lands in the trash while they hold it open for longs periods of time with their pudgy palm. Sigh.

Now, having boldly announced to the world (some of ) my phobias, let me tell you that the things my children love most in this world are:
1. Public Restrooms
2. Port-A-Potty's
3. Public Play Spaces
4. Escalators and Trash Cans

In fact, on a recent raspberry-picking trip (happy New England memories here) my children and their friends found the Port-a-potty to be significantly more fascinating than the berry picking. Suddenly the children who never have to go to the bathroom before we leave the house, have to "really, really, go" as soon as we get there and it's discovered there is a hairy, nasty, black-cloud-hanging-over-it, Germ-infested Port-a-potty by the berry bushes. It's suddenly laughter and chasing, and doors opening/shutting/opening/shutting, yelling ("Get out of here, it's my turn!") and general happy kid melee, and then they are running over to announce to me, "Mom, it's all wet in there, and now the bottom of my pants are wet..." and I'm trying not to overreact (because what kind of parent overreacts at this type of behavior) all-the-while I'm gagging silently to myself and now the kids are picking raspberries, with their grubby, dirty, filthy, bathroom, Port-a-potty germy hands, and I smile and say,
"Boy won't these berries make a good pie."

In fact, for their next birthday parties, I have decided instead of spending money on inflatable bouncy castles or cheap fast food burgers, I'm going to rent an arsenal of Port-a-potty's and filthy trash cans. Once they are finished playing with these, we'll go the mall and finish up with a romp in the public play space and a few rides on the escalator. I figure this way they will be happy as pigs-in-mud (not a far off analogy) and I'll save a lot of money.

I may need to be medicated first.

2 comments:

beebee said...

Okay. So I'm completely with you on most of these. Although I have to admit, most of my phobias have to do with germs on public METALS. Is that strange? I can literally break out into full-body hives after touching say... the metal door rail while entering The Gap. I am that freak you see walking around with a long-sleeved shirt or hoodie in the summer b/c I MUST have hand protection from random public metals.

Strangely, my girls suffer from the same ailment...

Sara J said...

I love your writting style. When are you going to write a book? I will be your number two fan...Dave should be your first.
Love from Arizona!