Can I just take a moment to say that teenage boys can be super gross?
I mean, obviously this varies from kid to kid. But in general, it’s kind of a horrible age (for boys and girls) as bodies change and make new smells, fluids and whatnot and we have to learn how to navigate all of that while keeping ourselves clean and healthy… Plus there’s the part where we learn to be more independent-- we’re placing more importance on what we want instead of what’s expected of us… It’s sort of the perfect storm of body odor.
As parents, it’s our job to give our kids the skills they need to maintain that “clean and healthy” thing. We teach our kids to wash their hands after they use the bathroom, before they eat or otherwise come into contact with food, and any other number of times in a given day. We teach them habits related to brushing teeth and other hygiene routines, but as they age the responsibility to maintain those habits falls on them.
Obviously slowing the spread of germs has been big in the news lately-- and for good reason. I’d quote some up-to-date statistics on the CoronaVirus, but right now they seem to be changing by the minute. But just like every cold and flu season, I’m reminded that Nolan doesn’t have the slightest care in the world about germs.
As I mentioned earlier this week, he plays with spit. Yes, it’s super gross. No, we haven’t figured out how to stop it (it’s not like we can take it away from him), but it has gotten somewhat better over the years...We’ve learned ways to redirect him, and since it’s primarily a sensory thing for him, we (thankfully) have some options.
And in terms of germs, it’s a nightmare. Although really, he’s a germ nightmare all around. Sneezing? Uncovered. Coughing? Probably straight into my face. Potty stuff? Just… yikes.
These are hard concepts to teach to any kid, but Nolan may never understand why we expect him to do these strange things. “So, after I pee into this round water thing, you want me to play in the sink?” or “Before bed, I put this plastic scratchy thing in my mouth with some minty stuff on it, and you expect me not to chew on it?” I’m sure he thinks we’re a bunch of weirdos (and he may be right…).
I mean, he loves soap and water. I’m pretty sure he’d play in the tub for about 3 hours most days if I let him. And he’s been known to empty an entire bottle of soap or shampoo in under 3 minutes-- just not necessarily for washing. Usually it’s more for sensory play or just applying to the floor, walls, furniture, doorknobs and anything else that seems to need it. And liquid soap is much harder to clean up than you might expect (I’ve got lots of practice if you ever need any tips, though…)
This is what an entire bottle of Head & Shoulders looks like.
At this point, I’m just grateful no one in our household is immune compromised. We’re doing what we can to help protect the people in our communities who are, but germs are kind of an uphill battle for us. In fact, we’ve kind of got our natural immunities built up from years of exposure to all these germs-- at least that’s the story I’m going with.
For now I’m just hoping all of the preventative measures help contain this virus. I know scientists and medical professionals around the globe are working to understand the disease and how best to treat it, and I hope they’ve got access to the resources they need.
In the meantime, we’ll be doing our best to minimize the spit-sharing, and of course we’re washing our hands. I encourage you to also keep washing your hands, stay calm and maybe share your toilet paper stash with a neighbor who didn’t get to the store as fast as you did.