The upside of being dirty

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Updated Sep 9, 2012

We have a friend who owns a daycare. When my husband is in town, he’ll take the big truck over to her place to let the little ones see it and sit in it and blow the horn for them. They’re delighted to be able to peek out from way up high, and touch the big steering wheel. Someone always cries when the horn is blown, because no one realizes how loud the air horn is on a truck when it’s in a residential neighborhood, until it’s blown in a residential neighborhood. It rattles the windows and always freaks at least one of them out. My husband hates to blow it, but I think children are born with some ingrained sense of the horn pulling motion, and jerk their little arms up and down until he feels obligated.

This daycare is the type where kids stay outside all day during the summer and play in the dirt. These kids smell like sunshine and sweat, like little ones should. They’re some of the healthiest kids in town. She doesn’t use antibacterial hand gel, she has them wash with warm water and soap. She has dogs and cats and the kids play on the floor, which always looks clean, but with five little kids rolling around on it, who can tell? Most of them are grubby as hell when they’re picked up at the end of the day, but they’re happy and they sleep good. People wait for slots in this daycare.

When I worked as a nurse, I noticed people who were freakiest about germs were the ones always sick. There’s a correlation between number of times a day someone slathers antibacterial napalm on their hands and forearms and number of times they get the flu or a cold in a year.

It only makes sense the more you’re exposed to, the stronger you’re immune system becomes. What doesn’t kill you cures you. If you don’t give your body a chance to experience germs, it won’t know what to do when it meets them. I certainly don’t advocate being filthy, but decontaminating your skin every time you have contact with anything is detrimental to your health. You actually kill yourself with the very thing you think is going to save you. Now that, my friends, is irony.

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It’s amazing the number of people who don’t realize just washing your hands with soap and warm water three times a day greatly reduces your chances of colds or flu, which are the most common ailments contracted from hand to mouth contact. Use common sense – if you touch something that feels dirty, wash your hands. You’ll notice if you think about it that most dirty things feel gross. You thought about it didn’t you? And I’m right, aren’t I? (The exception here is a gooey bar of soap, I don’t like gooey soap – it grosses me out.)

So now that you’ve invested roughly three minutes reading this, you’re thinking, “Surely this idiot isn’t doing a whole post on dirty little kids and washing your hands? Why did I even start reading this crap? I know better, she sucks you in with a nice story and ends up talking about Sasquatch.”

And my answer is, actually, no. My post is a thinly veiled plot against the antibacterial hand gel mega-companies. Kidding! My post is to the people I see rubbing their kids down with alcohol and petroleum just because they were in the vicinity of a truck stop bathroom. God forbid they catch a spark, you’re going up like a roman candle. What do you think the aliens tell the rest of the universe about us when they report back? “You guys are not going to believe this, but they’re so overcrowded now they’re slathering their young with flammable gel and inviting destruction to their race. It’s crazy as hell.”

It should be noted I did not mention Sasquatch in that post but once, and it wasn’t even a real sub-plot.

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