Dear Grandparenting: Here’s the big news. I am no longer fit to be a grandparent since I became a “dirtball.” That’s what my daughter calls me nowadays and it takes some getting used to.
She always was a neat freak but this time it’s ridiculous. The kiss of death was seeing me put the pacifier back in his mouth after it fell on the rug.
“Don’t ever do that again!!” except she said it loud and slow, one word at a time. Wham! Next day she emails me that her place is “a germ free zone, and that means you too dirtball.” So now I am not welcome.
I understand what precautions to take with toddlers and am always good about washing my hands, etc. Is she a nut case or what? Cindy Jones Anderson, Eau Claire, WI
Dear Cindy: Acquaint your daughter with a few facts. For starters, it’s pure fiction to believe you can create a germ free home environment. Even more to the point, germ-phobic parents often do more harm than good. Growing grandchildren, say health professionals, need more dirt, not less.
Microorganisms are the dominant life form on our planet. The human body contains about 90 trillion microbes and most are beneficial. The bad guys — bacteria, viruses, fungi and others we call germs — are potential troublemakers.
But immunologists who study the body’s defense system against disease will tell you that routine childhood exposure to a range of troublemakers is the best way to develop immunity against disease.
Medical professionals pinpointed just one example when diagnoses of children with asthma and food allergies surged. Children were spending more in sanitized indoor conditions, resulting in idled and weakened immune systems.
When it comes to microbes, what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger. And building a healthy immune system is clearly more effective than trying to kill every last germ.
Germ phobia is often indicative of new mothers suffering from a postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder. These symptoms are generally temporary, but seek help if her condition interferes with your daughter’s normal functioning or appropriate care of your grandson. Medical intervention may be in order.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Bennie Thomas from Baltimore, Maryland, is fond of telling people that he is “a grandfather with silver in his hair and gold in his heart for all the grandkids.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.