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.
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.
- It would lower my anxiety levels about germs
- It would protect the children from illness
- 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).
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!