Ewwww! Cooties!

July 23, 2009

As I was standing around at the playground the other day one mom mentioned how much she had enjoyed the public library’s storytime.  She said that she had been reluctant to go before now- her kid was around a year- because of all of the germs left on the books by other kids.

Now I know I should be generous and give her props for getting over the fear and taking her kid anyway.  And I know I shouldn’t be judgmental of other people’s anxieties and, for the most part, I’m not.   But this one blew my mind.  In part, I think, because she mentioned this fear without any humor or awareness that this might be a little over the top- her fear of germs in this way was, she assumed, completely and utterly normal.

I don’t know, maybe I am the weird one.  Maybe I am being reckless and exposing my kid to germs in all kinds of dangerous ways.  But I really feel that kids not only need to be exposed to germs and dirt and grime, but that they also need to be exposed to the world.  Keeping them sanitized isn’t doing them any favors.  If anything, it just teaches them to be scared of the world around them.  And, honestly, that just makes me kind of sad.



March 17, 2009


Image credit: Redbook

Image credit: Redbook

Before I start on what I really want to say I want to put out a disclaimer: I do not purposely expose my child to germs nor do I want him to get sick.  Ok, now that we have that settled: what is with people’s absolute paranoia about germs?! Germaphobia (which is technically called Misophobia), especially with parents of children, is out of control! 

I spent the morning with some friends and their babies.  We went out for a walk, ended up at a coffee shop, chatting, hanging out, etc.  It then got to be about time to leave and one friend invited us back to her place.  I said, thanks but that I needed to head home for naptime, etc.  The other parent said, “has anyone been sick at your house?”

Similarly, I was at a party this past weekend with a lot of kids under the age of 2.  They were all playing happily with some blocks and a deck of playing cards.  But there was one mom who wouldn’t let her kid touch any of the toys other kids were touching and whenever he picked up a polluted playing card would replace it with his own toy car.  I didn’t break it to her that other kids had played with his toy car- why add the to anxiety… 

Now I am all for protecting newborns and I’m all for trying to avoid colds, etc.  But at some point your kid is going to get a cold, is going to eat some dirt, is going to suck on a toy that some other kid has just sucked on, you name it, they are going to do it.  So it seems to me that a better course of action would be to minimize exposure to really serious germs as much as possible but other than that just chill out.  In the end, which is worse, your kid picking up and internalizing your anxiety or a couple stuffy noses along the way?