Thursday, February 28, 2008

TFT: germy

Last week I promised you Germ talk and so now, without further ado, I bring you Germs. Okay, not literally... I'm not going to bring you germs. I'm thinking we'd be hard pressed to pass them over the blog and besides, I'm not sick and I don't have cooties anymore (we outgrow that in like 5th grade, right?) so it's all good.

But I do want to talk germs. Because I don't usually. I don't even think about germs much. Do you think about germs?
I know many people who seem to have germs on their mind a lot. When their kids touch things, play with things, drop a cracker on the floor; I notice that they wash things, remove things, tell them the cheerio they just dropped on their own kitchen floor is icky... a lot. Way more than I would ever think to do.
And the other thing... this is the thing I really wanted to talk about today... when their kids get sick the very first thing they think about is where did they get that from. As in where did they pick up that germ? What did they touch, who were they around, what germs were passed to get them sick. I've listened to these conversations over and over and over. And it just always catches my attention because I just do not think like that.

When my kid coughs or sneezes or comes down with a cold or even the flu, my first thought is not 'how did they get sick?'... my thought is 'oh kids get sick'. I mean granted, if we had specifically been around someone with pink eye, or the flu, or the exact same cold that my daughter is now sporting in her nose, then yes I put two and two together and give a nod to the fact that that's how we stumbled into it... but generally I don't go looking for why they're sniffling or where they picked up the cough or try and remember if they wore a warm enough jacket the other day. Kids are kids and kids get sick. Does it really matter if you think they got it because you forgot your shopping cart cover that one time or because they were playing outside in the damp weather or because her cousin had the sniffles last week?
This topic is a perfect example of one of those things that completely fascinates me because I so do not think like that. When my toddler finds a left behind ball at the park, I let him play with it. And I don't freak out if he happens to put his mouth on it. Or if he chews on a stick or eats sand. I mean, I do remind him we don't eat those things, but it's just because we don't eat those things, not because ewww germs!. I don't have a problem letting my kids play at McDonald's playland. If he drops a goldfish cracker on the floor I don't care if he wants to pick it up and still eat it. I don't mind my kids playing with kids who may be a little runny nosed; I draw the line at fever or spewing chunks or hacking up a lung, but for the most part we're not afraid of a little cold. We live in a germy world, and beside the fact that I am not of the opinion that my kid is going to get sick and die from the one random little microscopic virus germ that made it to their mouth yesterday at the McDonalds, I'm not about to try and shelter or fight against the sheer amount of possible germs out there. **

And the funny thing is, we don't really get sick very often. Both my kids have only ever had one ear infection when they were infants, and for pretty much their whole lives have only ever gone to the dr in between Well Baby/yearly check-ups for owie emergencies or allergic reactions. Savannah had strep throat this fall and that's the first time she's been in because of illness that I can remember from when she was 9 months old. We do get the random cold and we do get fevers but rarely do we get something that I need answers for or that we need to see the doctor for.

So my question is, do I not worry about germs because my kids are pretty healthy, or are my kids pretty healthy because I don't worry about germs. Hold on; I'm not saying at all that if people's kids get sick often that it's in any way shape or form their fault... I'm saying that more along the lines of how much of this sometimes is in our heads? You know? Irony. Why is it that that it seems that the people who are a little more preoccupied with germs and keeping things extra sanitary and sheltered (even before they had kids) are the ones who's kids do get sick more? The ones who are looking for the germs and looking for the things that can "cause" sickness... how do they find them so much more easily than me? How does that happen? Is it because my kids are so "germy" that they stay healthy? (people like to call that "immunity by positive exposure") Or am I just oblivious and lucky??

Are germs a big part of your thinking?

**Let me just say that I'm talking about the "germs" generally floating around in our environment. I'm assuming you know my concern is high enough that I am of course teaching my kids to wash well in the bathroom, wash their hands after playing on the playground or climbing at McDonalds, cover their sneezes and coughs, etc, etc.**

Other Thoughts this Thursday:
Emilie on waxing or plucking
Kristi on childbirth fears
Stacy on children of the 80's
Jessica on one year old bday parties
Jenny on emergency preparedness
Michelle on different diets
Michann on communication the old school way
Apryl on procrastination
Robyn on on person making a difference
April on astrology


Nicole said...

You know my thoughts on this... I really don't worry about germs much either. I don't purel my hands after changing diapers (unless I get poo on my finger EWW), and I don't worry about Porter eating food off the floor (Actually... at Old Navy the other night he dropped a Jelly Bean and he was so worried about it I picked the damn thing back up and gave it to him), and I barely think about germs at the playground/play places. Bathrooms.. yeah... EWW. Public bathrooms gross me out. I was actually just talking to Les on Saturday about how grossed out I was about Caserlands bathroom... and I was like "PORTER Don't touch ANYTHING!" and then I said "How stupid... I'm sure those play mats are a zillion times more germ infested than this bathroom floor!" HAHA!

Anyhow... back to the topic. Colds, sickness etc... I never try to track down the cold. I work around kids all day so I'm sure I bring lots of crap home from work. I was never one to use a cart cover thingamajigger or a high chair cover thingamajigger. Pointless, I think. I sometimes think it'd be a good idea to wipe down the handle with a sani-wipe or something but I never do. And, for the record, there were lots of times I let Porter, as a baby, CHEW on the cart. Yep. I'm a gross mom, aren't I? I just figured... hey, it keeps him happy and quiet and I can shop....

I also remember reading somewhere, someone posted about germs and being anal about them and they made the comment that they tend to be only as anal as the people they're around. As in, if you're around laid back people, they tend to be more laid back and paranoid about toys/food/pacis on the floor. And when they're around more anal/paranoid people they tend to be more overprotective about those types of things (sharing spit swabbed toys etc..). I tend to be this way if I'm around someone who's a lot more anal than me... not so much with my kid, but with theirs.... I always am cautious about putting pacis/toys in other people's babies mouths when I'm not sure if they'd wash it or just plug it back in.

Whew... what a novel!

Nicole said...

Oh... I never really answered your question. I got on a roll and rambled a bit.

I always think that it seems like the paranoid/overcautious/keep things clean parents are the ones who have kids who are sick more often and the parents who are laid back and don't worry about germs are the ones with kids who aren't sick as often.

Porter isn't sick too awful much... he's had one ear infection, had the flu once and has had his share of the common cold, but nothing that stands out to me as "OMG he's sick ALL the time"

I like the theory of "immunity by positive exposure" but I've also heard that its absolutely incorrect. (I think Marisa Eash wrote about it on her blog awhile back... or something)

jenny said...

i with you on this. when tucker was a newborn i was worried about germs, but i grew out of that quick! he is always dropping food on our floor and eating it - big deal. i never use a shopping cart cover or anything like that because i think it's a waste of money. i'm with you on the basics - hand washing, cover your mouth when you cough, etc. but i think being a germaphobe is a waste of time and energy. oh, and i don't really track down where any of us get sick because at that point - who cares? we're sick and that's that!

interesting spin on germs. :)

Amy said...

i used to be obsessed about germs. i have really lightened up with respect to this!

we all wash our hands whenever we come in from being out. i think that's good practice.

though we still get sick now and again, i often wonder if things would be any worse, if we didn't wash our hands. i don't know, but we'll stick with it!

Robyn said...

I don't get too excited about it. I figure the more you're exposed to the better off you are to fight it off. Colds and such happen, usually because you're fighting off some other germ. I so scrub a lot more at work because it's nasty there and we have quite a few cases of MRSA floating about.

Anonymous said...

I don't worry too much about kids eat things that fall on our floor, sit in public strollers (like Old Navy) and high chairs, etc. But there are a few things that REALLY gross me out, including:

Public bathrooms
McDonald's Playland...just, eww. Can't handle it.
A teething baby chewing on the shopping cart handle.
(I just read the other Nicole's comment and had to laugh, as I didn't see it before I typed mine!)

And, I'm trying to teach the boys to cough into their elbow, so at least when they do have a cough they don't get the germs all over their hands and then smear it all over everything else.

Otherwise, I don't worry too much about it!

Erin Miller said...

Dr. McCombs, a GI specialist at my church says that the reason kids are sick all the time "now-a-days" is because they don't eat enough dirt. He believes wholeheartedly in not overdoing the antibacterial issue.

I, on the other hand, am a huge germophobe. I hate to think what I'd be like if I had children!

Annie S. said...

The only time I get more concerned about germs is AFTER my kids are sick for a week and I'm homebound (which I hate). It's then that I consider keeping them out of the church nursery for a day so their immunes can gain some ground. Mostly because I want to try and avoid another week of quarentine! Generally I do the normal things like encourage hand washing after bathrooms & before meals, and I do use hand sanitizer at times. We are constantly around lots of other toddlers/preschoolers (I mean, between preschool and church and other activities, Cade is literally with groups of children 6-7 times and that doesn't count a one-one playdate that may come up). So we are exposed to EVERYTHING! And we catch a fraction of the illnesses that circle around. No big deal and I do feel it builds their immunes. Cade's only had antibiotics once and Callum's never had them, but I do feel for both my boys that when they are eating lots of dairy, they get sick more often. Basically, to get back to your question, I don't think as much about where the germs are coming from (it's impossible to figure it out anyway so why bother?) as I do about trying to make sure my kids' immunes are strong enough to fight off whatever they come in contact with. :)

Annie S. said...

I meant to say 6-7 times each week Cade is with groups of children.

Kim said...

i'm not too concerned about germs... sometimes people will ask if i don't want them to come around max, or bring their kid around max, and i always think, why not? i mean, unless they have something really catchy like the stomach flu we had a few weeks ago. but i swear max just picked that up from going to target or something. kids can't live in a bubble.

bathrooms do gross me out though. even ours grosses me out a little bit... if i'm getting ready in the morning and max crawls in and is hanging out around the toilet, i'll need to stop what i'm doing and get him occupied with something else. ew.

i really do believe washing your hands often, and WELL, is the best thing... i read something last year that people don't wash their hands for long enough. so, this winter i've been making sure i wash them for at least 20 seconds (it's longer than you'd think!). and i haven't even had a cold yet this winter, which is pretty amazing for me.

Michelle Leigh said...

Well, I don't really worry all that much. I am a stickler about certain things though. I honestly won't let them play at McDonald's. It's gross in the restaurant and it's gross in the playland. I just hate those balls, they really creep me out. I also am very anal in bathrooms, even my own. I clean out the tub after the baths are done. For some reason I'm terrified of UTI's for the girls. B got one when she was just 2 months old and since then I've been a freak. As far as eating off the floor, whatever, no biggie. We have 3 pets and they are dirty and it couldn't be worse than getting a slobbery kiss from them! My kids can play with others who have coughs and runny noses, it will happen anyway!

I've never really used a cart cover but the highchairs in restaurants are always soooo sticky, seriously, do they clean them? I still use them, but they are nasty!

kelli said...

Oh Heather! Thank so you much for this post, I love it. As the lucky person who gets to run our church's nursery, I get so frustrated with parents who come to me because they think their kids got sick from another kid in the nursery. Or with parents who don't bring their kids during the winter for fear of them catching something. Come on people, are you really going to sit at home because there is a chance your kid will get sick? Kids get sick, that's what they can't avoid it. In fact kids do need some germs. **Side note: we do have a well child policy & "kick" kids out of the nursery if they have visible symptoms.

Ok, I'm off my soap box now...on to the question. I don't think back at all to where Elle might have gotten sick. We aren't ones to sit at home, she could have gotten sick from anything. I didn't let her chew on the shopping cart/high chairs...I draw the line there, and we are currently working on covering her mouth when she coughs. Plus, we try to use good 'ol soap and water as often as possible.

Anne said...

Heehee, I'm pretty sure I'm the commenter Nicole was referring to- the one who is only as anal as the people/parents she's around:) I guess I'd consider myself in the "moderate" category of being anal about germs and my kid. I do not know why I'm like this, but ever since I've worked as a teaching assistant and teacher in elementary schools, and had to deal with sick, boogery kids CONSTANTLY, I've become slightly germophobe. I do not own a cart or high chair cover, but I DID just today wipe down the Target cart with a wipe!! I'm not anal about germs at my house really- just out in public more and around other people's obviously sick kids. I mean at home, stuff drops on the floor, the boy puts it back in his mouth. He eats dog hair and chews on magazines. We practice good handwashing, and I strongly believe that's the best deterrent to getting sick.

One thing that does irk me is when parents bring an obviously sick and miserable kid to a playdate or other kid-friendly activity. We go to an ECFE class, and on more than one occasion there have been kids there with fevers, kids who had diarhhea the previous day, and kids who were phlegmy coughing and snotting all over the toys and equipment that the other kids go and pick up and chew on. Ew. That grosses me out. If your child is that sick, please stay home.

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