Friday, March 16, 2012

Building Immune Systems

Once upon a time, I let Little A. lick floors. Well, short of throwing my body between him and the floor, I could not have stopped it—and I’m not sure that would even have worked. So, for a couple of months when he was two, he licked the floors at the grocery store, the school, the church, and the mall.

He didn’t make a hobby of it—two-year-old tantrums just went that way for him. He kicked around in circles on the floor, rubbing his open mouth all over. Either demons possessed him or he aspired to become a floor cleaning machine.

I had never, ever seen a kid do this before. I felt like a total freak. What had we done to our son?

On the bright side, he wasn’t ever sick. Breastfeeding or well-exercised immune system? We’ll never know.

Two years later I went out with a friend and her two-year-old, who licked the floor at the Y and McDonald’s. I felt normal again.

Today, I felt like a freak again.

I took the kids to the grocery store today. Things got progressively less…cooperative as we worked our way through our list, which included four dairy products. Now, in our store, the dairy cases turn a corner. It is THE MOST CROWDED piece of aisle in the whole store.

Needless to say, they put a candy display in the middle of it.

As I’m frantically grabbing dairy, Little A., now four, decides to give the candy display a little lick. Weighed down by a gallon and a half of milk, I do a nightmare slow-motion dash to him as S. shouts at the top of her lungs, “EEEW! You licked it.”

As I grab his shirt sleeve and attempt to pull him out of traffic to deliver a firm, positive, admonishment, he employs his favorite anti-parent weapon, his go-to play, his trump card.


I’m now compelled to defend myself before a jury of six shopping retirees, a businesswoman, and a shelf-stocker.

“That was your shirt sleeve. Now, eyes on me.”

I deliver the aforementioned admonishment, well aware of the sixteen ears trained on my voice, and the sixteen eyes tilted my way to see if I’m going to go all Walmart on Little A.

Of course I’m not. He’s just building his immune system, right?

At least he now knows that if he licks anything, ever again, he will not leave the house until he’s twelve. Daddy and I will run all our errands after he’s in bed. Got it?

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