The good, the bad, and the ridiculous – these are my tales from the canvas. In a moment of quiet reflection I wondered to myself what my life felt like. If I had to describe it in one or two words, what would I say? I decided my word would be “fight,” and I didn’t think of that as a negative or violent term. To me, life was like being in the ring all the time. Sometimes life hit hard when I least expected it. I went facedown onto the canvas and had to decide how much time I needed before I attempted to get up. Sometimes I managed to roll with the punches and barely made it to the bell, but I made it. Other times, it was surprisingly easy, and I actually got to hold my arms in the air and do a victory lap. It doesn’t matter if I’m face down on the canvas wondering if I can get up or if I’m standing proud celebrating a victory. As long as I have a few people in my corner, I can keep moving forward and even find joy and humor in the most unlikely moments. Join me, ringside, as I attempt to make my way through the unpredictable moments of parenting, marriage, work, aging, and more. Who knows? Maybe I am a contender after all.
Thank you for joining me! Let’s get this blog started!
Raising a germaphobe has unique challenges. My husband and I must take responsibility for what we have created with our daughter. We all know that we parent our first born much differently than we do the others. There wasn’t a meal we ate in a restaurant where she didn’t have a disposable mat on the table and a cover for her high chair. That chair cover came to every grocery store trip as well. If we ever saw our child pick up the tiniest morsel of food without freshly washed, wiped or recently sanitized hands we would say how yucky it was and that she would get germs. Big mistake- really, really, really big parenting mistake. We created a germphobe and now we are trying to raise her to not be one.
Our pediatrician loves us. Here’s a shout out to Dr. Dan who has listened to several of her stories describing the awful diseases she has contracted. My personal favorite was when she thought she had rabies. On this particular week I took my then seven year old to a playground where she frolicked and enjoyed one of those fast friendships children strike up at the park. It was a joy to watch my worrisome child take in the beautiful sunny day and run barefoot with reckless abandon. That all changed that evening. My daughter insisted she had contracted rabies at the park. She was certain she walked on a piece of wood while barefoot that a diseased raccoon had walked on the day before. She said she felt weird and that her saliva was getting foamier by the minute. Ask quickly as I questioned where this was coming from I answered it- damn you Hallmark channel and your Little House on the Prairie reruns! My daughter hung onto every moment of that rabies episode. This talk went on for days, and I assured her that she could speak with her doctor when we went in for her annual check up. It was there that after a quick prep move with her mouth I would liken to gargling mouthwash that she showed Dr. Dan the foamy saliva she had been plagued with for days. She shared the story of how she had contracted this terrible disease. He kindly took a close look to show that he cared. He also assured her in his many decades of treating children he had not once seen a case of rabies. Much to my relief she immediately moved on.
If I remember correctly the next germ fear was salmonella. Before every meal I had to look her in the eye and swear that there was no salmonella in the food. Lovely table conversation, don’t you think? One morning she happened to lay her iPod on a portion of the island where I had earlier placed a sealed package of bacon. Chaos ensued. I wiped the iPod down with an antibacterial wipe but her question remained- how could I assure her that there was no salmonella on the phone when the packaging clearly stated it only cleans 99.9% of germs???? Over it about three minutes into the tear filled conversation I grabbed the iPod and licked it top to bottom and handed it over. How was that for a guarantee? And yes, there was a request for one more wipe down but the tears were gone. Salmonella disappeared temporarily but made a brief comeback when she caught a baby turtle at the lake. After she held it she googled diseases carried by turtles. It turns out they are carriers of salmonella. The next search was for symptoms of salmonella. When we finished reading them out loud we attempted to assure her she had none of the symptoms. She said one of the symptoms was diarrhea and although fine at that moment she could feel it coming her way.
Fast forward to current reality. The germ stuff only comes up from time to time. Her brother awoke with very blood shot eyes recently due to allergies. She nonchalantly told him it might be Ebola as that is one of the symptoms. He cried in fear and that only made his eyes redder. Zika should be interesting this summer. I have joked with friends that I could easily ensure purity at her wedding by showing her one photo of an STD.
Although the germ talk has left our daily exchanges it still entertains from time to time. My daughter attends school in an older building and like many schools this age it is in need of some repairs. She came home last week concerned that something had fallen out of the ceiling and onto her desk during science class. She was certain it was feces and most likely it belonged to a rat. Her teacher allowed her to move but she forgot about the incident and ate an M&M shortly thereafter and had not washed her hands. So, we go from completely fearful of germs to okay with eating chocolate after potential contact with animal fecal matter? Well, young people are hungry and I have been known to eat a piece of chocolate right off the floor under the right circumstances. Who am I to judge?
As she settled in at home that day the fear began to increase. I sent her father text messages of the scene in real time that I will share with you now:
Me: Your daughter may or may not have touched rat feces that fell from the ceiling in her science class. She then ate an M&M that may or may not have caused her to contract a serious disease. She is busy googling and crying. Good times.
Him: Ha! Does she have bubonic plague?
Me: Wait- It could now also be bat droppings. She is looking at pictures of different droppings.
Me: Oh damn! Now she is screaming. Definitely bat droppings in her opinion. Help me! Send vodka!
Him: Maybe it is rabies.
Me: She just asked to sign a DNR form. I didn’t know what that was. She explained it was a do not resuscitate form.
Him: Tell her it’s better for her to be quarantined in her bedroom for the next 24-36 hours in order that we can make sure she doesn’t have plague or rabies. Also, tell her rat droppings and guano look a lot like turtle crap so she just might have salmonella.
Put your fears to rest. All is well in our house and no illness was contracted. Everyone has moved on, and we have a fantastic story to share. I love my daughter just as she is-fears, dreams and all. She just might become an infectious disease doctor and help the world.