The boys recently went for their annual wellness visits. I’d like to know when we started calling check ups - wellness visits. Because of my age and overall cranky attitude, I think that sounds a bit airy-fairy. Do we really feel that we are getting an infusion of wellness when we take our kids to the doctor and sit “patient”ly waiting in a room filled with sick children spraying their infectious sneezes like human aerosol cans infecting us all with mists of germ clouds? Do we feel more well, weller even, for having gone for a wellness visit?
There are some of you who are adversarial by nature and who will choose to argue with me for sport claiming that taking your children for a wellness visit makes them feel more well than had you not. I say, whatever helps you sleep at night, mostly because I like to say that. And also because I spend hours and hours of each week with small children who are often unwell but who are at school spreading their unwellness via unwell means to everyone else.
Case in point, hand washing. I can tell you that most children do not know how to wash their hands. I wag my finger at you as I did to my own self because when I dared to inspect the hand-washing practices of my own children after a morning spent with my class of adorably disgusting 2 year-olds, I realized that my own children were, in fact, really bad at it.
I don’t judge you. Well, I may judge you, but I don’t judge you for your kids’ germy hands. Every time our kids learn to do something on their own, we breathe a little easier. When they feed themselves, buckle their seatbelts, use the toilet, use the toilet AND wipe themselves, brush their teeth or wash their hands, we congratulate them for their accomplishments and pat ourselves on the back for helping them realize a developmental milestone. And then, we move on. There is so much more they need to learn that we can’t possibly look back. They’ve got to learn to tie their shoes, cut their own food, make their own food, make their beds, make my breakfast and deliver it to me in bed with the newspaper… There’s no time to review what’s already been done. We are constantly looking to what’s next. "Go forward. Move ahead" to quote great singing oracles, Devo.
Independence is a beautiful thing. Our children are blossoming, aren’t they? Blossoming, shmossoming! What I love is that they are physically less dependent on me. There are plenty of parents who cherish those early days when their babies are completely helpless and rely on them for absolutely everything. I was never one of those parents. I don’t wish their childhoods away, but I do welcome every stage that brings them closer to self-reliance. You, too, might be staring ahead into the future, that you have not considered the habits that have formed behind you. So, every time they learn a new skill, we very well may never revisit that it. Such is the case with hand washing, most likely.
Do your kids dispense too much liquid soap on to their dry hands and then turn on the water only to watch the enormous glob of soap fall right down the drain before your angels manage to put their hands together? Do they scrub thoroughly for the recommended 20 seconds or as long as it takes to sing the alphabet song?
As a teacher and a mother, I feel it my responsibility to spread the gospel of hand washing faster than your children can spread the flu, salmonella or plague. Allow me to help you teach your adorable little germ transporters how to wash their hands. You may find my tutelage applicable for yourself, too. We are our children’s role models, after all. I don’t want to point fingers, though my fingers are squeaky clean, but I’ve seen some of you people in action. It’s not pretty.
Assisting me in my hand washing evangelism is my able volunteer and reformed hand-washer, Asher.
Now get out there and be well!