Despite my kid swimming all day long, his feet were still disgusting at bed time- the shiny dirt ground in deep. But his teeth were clean, and, even more importantly, he had an awesome, active day and happily crashed into sleep before the sun went down. Why is the dirt on the bottoms of one’s feet glossy? Must have to do with interaction with those toughened, calloused summer soles. Even if he had showered or bathed, it is likely that dirt would remain. I’m pretty sure those dirt particles were ground in back in May, probably on the first day his feet were freed from societal shoe restriction. And guess what– I’m okay with dirty feet. I’m okay with whatever manner the dirt arrived whether from hours running on green grass playing soccer or frisbee barefoot– or maybe even from the muddy area around the pond from fishing or a walking to his grandparents’ house. And I’m also under the impression that this dirt will not really go away before fall sets in. The problem with clean, water soaked feet is that, with all those open pores, they absorb more dirt more quickly once out of the water. This is a scientific fact. Maybe.
Never a mom to believe in hand sanitizer (or even regular hand washing- gasp!), I surrendered to germs when my kids were crawling and pulling themselves up on Geoff’s wheelchair. Inevitably, I would look away for one moment only to find them chewing on the rubber of his wheelchair tires. Disgusting, yes, yet they were always so happy. So, when other moms and dads suggest all the children wash their hands before dinner or any meal really, we generally oblige as I’ve explained to our kids that hand washing is a common practice for most American families. This is how it goes down: the suggestion is made, “Hey, kids, you’ve been playing around the pond–why doesn’t everyone wash their hands with soap before we eat?” My kids glance at me, that knowing glance of, “Oh, hey, this is that common practice for other families Mom was telling us about.” I nod back, and hand washing for all commences.
I know. I know. It’s probably gross, and you might not ever want to have a meal at our home again. But I assure you, when cooking or baking, I wash my hands. With that said, you still might find a dog hair or person hair somewhere in something cooked. I’m sorry. Funny story from a few years ago– we were having this neighborhood gathering in our yard and one of our guests said, “I hate to tell you this, Heather–” and I imagined for a moment that a glass had been broken or someone threw up or something truly catastrophic like my grill was on fire (this time it actually was not) or a kid was bleeding from a spilled bicycle, skateboard, fish hook. You know what I’m talking about. “I hate to tell you this, Heather, but you are out of hand soap in your downstairs bathroom.”
Had she not looked so concerned, so earnest in her worry, I may have giggled. However, I responded appropriately, equally concerned about the hygiene issues this EMERGENCY lack of hand soap might potentially create. Using my most soothing tone, I reassured her that I had another hand soap in the closet which was a tiny fib. I’m also not the kind of person who keeps back up hand soap around. We use it so rarely that one container, used primarily for guests, can last ages. I simply ran to the upstairs bathroom and grabbed the one we keep up by the kids’ sink just in case they have friends over who are consistent hand washers.
But for those of you who are hand washers or addicted hand sanitizers, is it really crazy to think that someone might just use dish soap in the kitchen and not go into high alert? I know, what am I thinking? How could I possibly be a good mother with this kind of hygiene ideology? It’s not that I don’t believe in it– I just don’t have strong feelings about enforcing it. Perhaps the term could be coined “apathehygienic”? I do recognize the importance of keeping new babies and old people and those with chronic illnesses or terrible diseases safe as possible from germs which would only complicate their situations. And for their sakes, I will try to do better.
The upside is that our kids are hardly sick aside from the occasional winter cold, although they will visit the nurse much more frequently in the hopes of having a fever and being sent home early from school. Summers in New Hampshire are best spent around water and woods, fishing, hiking, swimming, playing with friends, biking, napping outside in hammocks, sitting under big umbrellas in the shade on hot days. Oh and dirty feet. The best summer days end with really dirty feet.