I just want to wrap them up in biohazard suits!

I’m not even *that* much of a germaphobe. Well, maybe a little bit. I’d wrap them up in cotton wool, but: 1) I’m not sure it’d be very effective 2) I’m not keen on the texture, 3) it’d get soggy very quickly from the amount of drool Boybug produces. So I’m going to break from tradition and wrap them in biohazard suits.

I’m getting more accepting of childhood illness and the kids’ propensity to expose themselves to bacteria and viruses. When I first took Girlbug to a farm, we never made it more than a couple of metres from a hand wash station. She would toddle along, touch a fence – back to wash our hands. Set off again and she’d pick up a leaf. Back to wash her hands. Even the ubiquitous soft play on a farm wasn’t a safe haven. While trying to cool my scalding, stewed, murky coffee I’d watch her climb. The kid in front had been round the farm and had muddy knees…as she followed I could virtually see the E.coli jumping from the kid’s trousers, onto the soft play equipment, onto Girlbug’s hands and then into her mouth. Back to wash her hands then.

 

Girlbug at the farm
Even when a farm puts up double fences Girlbug tries to get up close with the animals

It wasn’t the most relaxing of trips, and Girlbug wondered why we had travelled so far just to visit various sinks all day. I’ve lightened up a bit since then, but do still get anxious on farms. E. coli is a real risk (see my farm page), and it can be life threatening in small children…so I’m not being *totally* over-the-top…just a little over-cautious maybe? We do go to farms, I think it’s good for the kids, and we now live in semi-rural environment with ready access to farmland. Though any trip to a farm is accompanied by a lot of hand washing, followed by the 10 day wait, while I anxiously appraise both children for any signs of gastrointestinal illness.

And both kids still do things that astound me. For example:

  • At 18 months, Girlbug used a farmyard fence as a teething toy
  • At 3 years old, after being told we must wash our hands straight after handling the reptiles, and a big discussion on bacteria, Girlbug kissed a skink (reptiles often carry Salmonella), then went happily to wash her hand. Granted I didn’t specifically say “don’t kiss the skink”, but it was implied!
  • Just today, Boybug walked across a field in wellies, then when we got home licked the mud off them
  • Girlbug’s inability to stop sucking her fingers in public toilets!
  • And then in our own home – the cat litter, the cat food, the toilet – all irresistible playthings for my children it seems.

So biohazard suits all round then. The benefits would be three-fold.

  1. It would lower my anxiety levels about germs
  2. It would protect the children from illness
  3. It would protect my children from some of my more relaxed parenting moments (I’m thinking the bread stick in the toilet incident, but also this corker below).

I seem to see-saw between a bundle of anxiety about childhood illness to being completely oblivious to them.

Here’s a confession. I have an MSc in control of infectious diseases and I failed to notice that both kids had chicken pox until after the event. I kept meaning to book them in for the vaccination…but hadn’t got round to it!

In my defence: we were on holiday so drinks were flowing, neither kid were that bothered by them, they did look a little bit like mosquito bites (sort of).

Girlbug woke one morning mid-holiday, complaining her legs were itchy. On inspection there were three small spots which we assumed were mosquito bites. That day she didn’t eat very much – but kids often have random fluctuations in appetite, and it was very hot. The next day we did a massive city tour, the kind you’re supposed to do before you have children, or after they’ve left home. We ended up with Boybug in the sling so that Girlbug and her tantrum could be restrained in the buggy. She did rally after some ice cream though, and the rest of the day was fine. The “mosquito bites” didn’t really do very much. She got a few more, but only on her legs. A few days later, Boybug woke up with a line of dots on his head. He didn’t scratch them, and seemed pretty oblivious. He was a bit grumpy, which we put down to the heat or teething (I always blame teeth).

 

chicken pox on  Boybug's head
Boybug’s pox: mild, but in retrospect, not mosquito bites!

 

A few days later we came back to the UK, away from the mosquitos! Boybug got three new spots on his arm. It’s only then that I looked closer. Hold up. They aren’t mossy bites! I popped him down to the pharmacy to confirm – “umm…that’s chickenpox isn’t it?”. “Yes, it looks like it” said our friendly pharmacist. And that was that. Neither kid had a fever, or scratched, or had blisters.

Maybe I need to stop worrying so much about what might happen and focus on what is happening!

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3 thoughts on “I just want to wrap them up in biohazard suits!

  1. This seems so funny to me! I grew up in a very rural environment, we spent many a day trying to gain the trust of the cows in the nearby field, stroking our horses and dogs, catching moles and mice, playing in the mud, swimming in the rivers and streams. It never occurred to us to wash our hands! Whenever I visit a farm I wonder how come there are so many bugs there! I really can’t seem to recognise my carefree childhood on a farm setting with the obsessive hand washing and disinfecting of visiting farms!! 🙂

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    1. It does seem incongruous, doesn’t it! First off, in terms of E. coli, it was only recognised in 1982, and is still not clear when the bacteria evolved to become pathogenic… But it would seem that it wasn’t as prevalent as it is today. Secondly, most cases would just be put down to food poisoning and probably never attributed to the countryside. And third, I guess these big children’s farms are relatively new. Rather than one child getting sick in isolation and going unnoticed, an outbreak is more noticeable.

      I am happy to admit my thoughts on farms are coloured by my work – every year we get a handful of kids with kidney damage – sometimes we get deaths…those reports stick with you, as does the fact they were just out having fun!

      It’s a balance as always, my kids go to farms, they’re fun. But, they will be washing their hands and I will be appraising the farm management!!

      I do think as we do more research we’re going to find most of our sporadic cases of E. coli are site to salad consumption though…. Far more dangerous than playing on a farm. Good thing that young children don’t tend to eat it!

      Liked by 1 person

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