There is scientific evidence that my sloppy parenting might have one small positive upside. Morning Edition ran a story today about the results of a study on how parents dealt with pacifiers that fell on the ground. I braced myself to hear yet another piece on how I’m doing it wrong, but was shocked and rather delighted to learn that according to this study the gross parenting wins. When C had a pacifier during the day (he only uses one when he sleeps now) and it fell on the ground I totally would pop that puppy into my mouth to “clean” it off. It turns out in this age of anti-bacterial everything our kids’ immune systems aren’t exposed to enough bad stuff. As counter intuitive as it seems, sticking a pacifier covered with my bacteria into C’s mouth might have kick started his immune system and helped him ward off eczema and allergies. Don’t get me wrong, dude is sick all the time, has had three trips to the ER, two overnight hospital stays, just got ear tubes. And I’m totally sure all that stuff is somehow my fault.
But. He does not have eczema. He (so far, knock on a forest’s worth of wood) does not have allergies.
I was feeling pretty self-satisfied while I told Z about the news piece as we headed to the backyard so he could hop on his bike and ride to work. Our backyard that was still covered in party detritus-decorations and used paper plates and sippy cups and a cooler filled with beer and mostly melted ice. Eh, the party was less than 48 hours ago. We are slobs. I ignored the mess and continued to feel pretty great about the validation that my gross version of parenting isn’t damaging the kids.
And then I saw it–an obviously pee filled diaper on the lawn. I turned to Z, “Please tell me we aren’t the people who have dirty diapers in our yard.” Z, “I cannot tell you that. Because we are those people.”
I’m desperately trying to focus on the positive. You know, the part where I filled my kid’s mouth with bacteria….
Last night he stood quietly for a moment. And then he returned to running around and screaming at the top of his lungs. He is wearing the water and pee soaked diaper that ended up spending the night on the lawn.
Naked gardener. He kept washing the dirt off of his feet. And then he’d take a step. And then he’d wash the dirt off. And then he’d take a step. Kept him occupied for a really long time.