When you have kids, it happens. Or at least, it happened to me. All that guck spilled forth on you each day. The shriveled-up, days-old food they’d slowly bring to their toddler mouths on gooey fingers. Rubbing their hands over every public surface before wiping their eyes, nose, mouth, and tongue with furious pleasure. It didn’t take long for me to become a germophobe. I’m trying to break free. But I still have many moments. And now that sick season is upon us, my soap sits at the ready.
I know what my kids touch every day. I know it’s good for their immune systems. Still, they don’t need to touch every germ, do they? They don’t need full exposure. Last year my daughter brought home everything from kindergarten. And I mean everything.
We wash our hands when we come inside from anywhere. I think that’s a sound rule. I hear and see what goes on. Toilets flush and sinks spray on for two seconds. Boogies go in places. In places. Raggedy dolls need to be washed. Hands rub over the bottoms of shoes that step in who knows what. It’s a nasty world out there.
And school? That warm bubble of sweaty kids, crammed into classrooms, sneezing and talking in each other’s faces? I’ve been there in classes where kids have coughed in my face. They go outside and never wash their grubby hands before lunch. I deal. I cringe, but I deal.
But I heard those four little words from my son on the way home from school this week, those words I dread every year.
“So-and-so threw up today.”
Great. Just great.
“And she didn’t even go home.”
Stop. The. Car.
“What?! Why didn’t she go home? She sat in your class all day?”
“Yup.” I think he knew that bothered me a great deal, and I think he liked it.
The interrogation began. As always, I wanted to know if he was anywhere near this vomiter at any point of that day or the days leading up to it. Did she breathe on him? Does she sit at his table? Did anything splash in his direction? (That has happened before…and it involved his lunch tray. Ew.)
Her being a girl means that there is likely no way he had any contact with her whatsoever.
Throw-up scares me. We had held out for seven years. Seven years, people! Until my daughter started kindergarten and brought that nasty bug home to us last year. She suffered for a fraction of our misery. My husband, son, and I were laid out for a weekend while she did nothing but beg us to play with her. I lay motionless and let my husband do almost all of the cleanup. He is great about that. I make an effort, all the while gagging and convulsing like a dog in the yard retching up dinner.
Kids, this is the reason we only put food in our mouths. Not thumbs or boogies. We don’t touch our nasty shoes while we’re eating dinner. We wash our hands for more than two seconds. We don’t pick up strange things off the ground and say, “What’s this?” It’s your ticket to the doctor, that’s what it is. Put that nasty thing down.
I just can’t get over my phobia yet. Sorry. Sick season is here, my soap is ready, and my nagging resumes today.