so fresh, so clean

A couple of weeks ago, Mike and I drove out of town for one of his poetry readings and at the event, he introduced me to a woman there. I reached out my hand to shake hers and what I got in return was mannequin hand. Like she was repulsed that I would do something so horrendous like touch her skin that instead of gripping her hand around mine, and proceeding to lift and drop it in an up-and-down motion, she kept her hand stiff until I let go.

I’ve thought about that and wondered if it was about swine flu or if the woman just didn’t get what it’s like to live in society where you interact with people and sometimes in these interactions YOU SHAKE HANDS. I’ve refused handshakes in the past, but only because my hand was seconds before rifling through a bag of honey mustard potato chips or I had just washed them and they weren’t as dry as I thought they were and it’s awkward to explain that no, I’m not sweaty, my hands are just wet and it’s very nice to meet you.

Whenever I see infant car seats with a tag that says, “Please Wash Your Hands Before Touching Mine,” I roll my eyes because it automatically assumes two things: 1) That I will touch your baby and 2) THAT I KNOW HOW TO READ! Don’t jump to the conclusion that Hooked On Phonics worked for me, I still have trouble with the schwa. I think my tapes were defective. I know that people can do whatever they want with their own babies and sometimes there are very real medical reasons why their children need to be protected and that perhaps they don’t want sickly swine-flu infested strangers touching their babies’ hands, but COME ON.

I watched that commercial with the woman who keeps her baby in the glass bubble on the playground because the world is too messy and I wanted to jump into the TV and smash the bubble over her head, especially when she comes around in the end thanks to baby wipes and annoyingly chirps to her now unfettered son, “NO MORE BUBBLE FOR YOUUUU!” Yes, that is what baby wipes are for, that is why we keep them around.

We were having ice cream one night and my mom kept telling me to wipe Nathan’s mouth because it was getting messy and I did not see the point of that because until he was done eating, it was going to be this useless wipedown and repeat when I could just wait and clean at the end. I sighed and did it anyway because I cannot fight my mother on how I should parent my child. I obediently follow her instructions and then when she leaves I revert to how it works for me.

I think I was hyper-concerned about germs when Nathan was just born and I was sleep-deprived and still washing his baby clothes by hand. Now if we’re in the car and Nathan’s hungry, I direct him to eat whatever goldfish crackers are around his seat.

How is it in your household? Do you keep a bottle of Purell with you at all times? Do you observe the five-second rule or five-minute rule?

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  1. A little dirt never killed anyone. I could vacuum the floor every day but it’d be a waste of my energy… I certainly don’t brush up crumbs when someone eats a biscuit in my house. I know someone who uses a hand held vac for such a purpose and I’m afraid I’d be tempted to throw it out of the window if they used it near me!
    I eat and make a mess sometimes. Peas fly off the plate and disappear under the chair! I’ll pick it up I promise! Just don’t insult me by wiping your feet on the way out!

  2. We’re better now. When we first had Sam, we were NUTS. NUTS. Washed our hands or Purell’d every five seconds, and made everyone else do the same.

    I think as they get older it’s easier to let go. But man, when she was that tiny little thing with no immune system, I was a handwashing WRECK.

  3. When our son was less than a month old, we asked people to wash their hands before picking him up. Since then, eh, whatever. He is now 6 months old and hasn’t been sick yet, so I continue to not worry too much.

    I also don’t wipe his face mid-meal. There is really no point. Plus, he acts like he is being tortured when we try to wipe his face or hands.

  4. I’ll admit…I was a real stickler for cleanliness in my kids. My house may not be up to standards but I dared anyone to find one speck of dirt on my kids! I carried around a diaper bag longer than I needed to just because I had to have the wipes on hand!!
    Now the kids are 10 and 7…whatever. They get dirty. I do still insist they wash their hands and face before school (how do they get toothpaste on their foreheads?!). I still wash my hands alot…gotta carry around the lotion to combat that. But no Purell. The kids seem to want it though…

  5. I think I freaked about germs for like the first month we had Austin (I agree, it was probably just the sleep-deprivation). But at this point, if it’s not lethal or straight up disgusting, then whatever. I’ll deal with the occasional cold if it means he won’t be a neurotic germ-phobe by age ten. And as far as mid-meal cleanups, no way! The way he screeches when I wipe his face, you’d think I was rubbing him down with hydrochloric acid.

  6. Um, in our house it’s more like, “Oh, has that been sitting out since last night? Does it have anything growing on it? No? Okay then!” Isn’t that terrible? I’ve never been a germ Nazi, not even when the babies were tiny. Doesn’t occur to me. ALSO terrible. I always felt so guilty when I kept forgetting to Purell my entire body before handling my germophobe friend’s new baby and she’d snap, “Maggie could you please WASH YOUR HANDS FIRST?’

    My MIL has a thing with wanting to wipe the baby’s face after every bite. I do not get this AT ALL. It ALREADY takes forever to feed the baby- why prolong it?! We solved this by me leaving the house if MIL wants to feed the baby. I don’t care what she does if I’m not around to see it!

  7. I try to be good about wiping Ethan’s hands when we’re out, and washing his hands at home before he eats, but I also dont freak out if he crawls under the table and eats cheerios that he dropped on the floor that morning. Unless my husband is home, because he doesn’t like that šŸ™‚

  8. I can’t stand people who are afraid to get a little dirt on themselves or their children. Kids with a juvenile case of OCD and freaks out at the hint of cake icing on their hand or shirt or FACE just makes for an eye rolling moment.
    This is why I love Nathan. Never afraid of dirt.

  9. OMG, we had that “Please wash your hands” sign and I hated it! BUT, my son was a preemie born during flu and RSV season and the doctors did tell us to be especially careful about taking him out around people. And my hubby, who is a total germaphobe, LOVED that sign.

  10. We have been getting more and more lax when it comes to dirt and germs, for sure! And mess! My girls eat “floorios” all day long (and carseat fish, of course!) and sometimes I just serve up snack on the floor, to avoid the inevitable middle step. My girls have been outside a lot lately, and dirt, wood chips, sticks and leaves are all fair game. Yum yum!

    That said, I understand the germ thing with newborns, as sick babies are just no fun (and can be a lot worse than that)! And every cough or sniffle my older one gets, my little ones get too, along with the inevitable ear infections, waaa! So I do tote the Purell (and sometimes remember to use it!) , too.

  11. I use hand sanitizer on shopping cart handles. But my house is a mess, and not particularly clean, and if I see a child eating cereal off the floor I think, “Oh good, now I don’t have to vacuum.”

  12. omg. That goldfish cracker thing? I HAVE SO DONE THAT. Very happy to know it’s not just me!

    Standards with that kind of stuff fell for us around the time she started crawling. Because seriously? You CANNOT possibly watch them 100% of the time once they become mobile. And they will find dirt and hair and old crackers and there’s not much you can do about that.

    I still stand by the idea that it’s good for their immune system šŸ™‚

  13. Bossy observes the five year rule. If it’s still annoying five years later, worry about it… otherwise…

  14. Build up the germ base…that’s what I say! On my braver days anyway.

  15. My parenting style is: yeah, whatever. Blow on it before you eat it to get any dirt off. šŸ™‚

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