Today we were taking some time out to get dirty, explore the outdoors and play in the park. While we were there I noticed several parents freaking out about germs and coating their kids in Purell. I totally get the staying clean thing but germs really? Do we really need to make kids afraid to get dirty, isn’t that what being a kid is all about?
The other day I was listening to CBC while cleaning food of the walls. They were talking about children, allergies and bacteria in the stomach. It seems like every time I hear health news it’s about the bacteria in your gut and how everything from allergies to your weight is controlled by them. The discussion on the radio was about how children who have certain allergies like peanuts are missing certain bacteria in their guts and you need to be exposed to them it in the first year of life. If they don’t have the experience they won’t be able to get them and will be susceptible to certain allergens. We try in so many ways to protect our kids and in some ways we are actually making it worse for them.
The bottom line of the discussion was let them eat dirt in the first year.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of antibiotic resistant cold strains or the overuse of antibiotics, so why haven’t parents figured out it’s okay to be dirty? When we were all growing up most of us we’re cleaned by our Mother’s spitting on a cloth and now our kids are being decontaminated. It’s crazy, I’ve seen parents wiping down the playground equipment out of fear of germs. The radio discussion really reminded me about how we view childhood differently now. We live in fear of our kids taking risks, falling down, getting dirty and exploring for themselves. I understand that the world is a different place than it was 30 years but if we continue to treat our children as porcelain dolls they are going to grow up fragile.
I guess I’m not that kind of parent. I want my kid to be able to take chances and get messy. I think you have to learn by trying and failing. If he wants to lick the sand well he’s going to find out its pretty gross but at least he won’t be afraid to try. So if you see us in the park chances are my kids the one jumping in puddles making a mess while I’m laughing along. Don’t worry I know what I’m doing and we don’t need any Purell.