Kids don’t eat enough dirt

Recently, I stopped off at Burger King with my kids for a quick weeknight dinner. (Fast food is simply an necessity sometimes.)  They got their usual chicken nuggets and started munching on them in the car.  When we got home and all piled out of the car, I noticed that my 7-year old had just picked up one of his dropped chicken nuggets from the driveway and was intending to eat it. As a mom, I am clearly familiar with the five-second rule.  But somehow, I don’t believe this convenient rule applies to the ground outdoors.

Horrified, I tried to smack it out of his hand, but it was too late. Gone! Down the hatch! To make matters worse, I looked up to see that a neighbor had just had witnessed the whole thing.  Now, even more horrified, I scrambled to come up with something to say to her, but I was at a loss for words. I opened my mouth and nothing came out. (Not a common occurrence for me.) That’s when she astounded me with a very interesting take on the situation.  “Oh, that’s okay,” she said.  “I’m a micro biologist and I’m a firm believer that kids don’t eat enough dirt.”

Hmmm… Now that was food for thought, so to speak.  I’ve heard people allude to the fact that, as parents, we are so concerned with protecting our children from germs that their immune systems don’t have a chance to develop.

So I researched it. And sure enough, studies do in fact reveal that exposing our kids to germs early in life may not only boost their bodies’ immune response, but may also reduce the risk of a allergies, asthma, inflammation and other immune-related diseases later in life! There is a name for this.  It is called the “”.

Well this makes parenting a teensy bit easier — one less thing to obsess about! I’m all over that shit!

That said, I do not intend to pepper my kids’ pizza with dirt.  And I do intend to continue beating into them the hygienic necessity of thorough hand washing (with soap, for the love of all that’s Holy). But let’s face it… our kids put their dirty little phalanges in their noses and mouths all day long.  God only knows what they’ve been touching! (Quite frankly, I’d rather not know.)  So, I say we all need to relax a little bit,  stop chasing our children around with the antibacterial gel and let kids be kids.

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  1. I’ve had kids in my class from some shady environments. These kids were NEVER sick!!!! Our lives are way too sterile. Love your post:)

    • I know!!! The kid who wears the same filthy, rotten sweathsirt every single day and has grubby hands to match is NEVER absent but miss prim and proper super clean freak is out at least once a week! I am a germ nut, but I draw the line at anitbacterial gels. The only time I approve is when there is no alternative and you are going to eat with your hands. People just just put it on in the middle of a conversation because it’s sitting there? Weird. Even weirder, I watched a waitress in the bathroom wash her hands, she did it well, and THEN she reached for the gel that was in a pump on the wall. It’s no wonder we are a sick species!!

  2. LOL!! I fully admit that my 1 year old has had a handful of dirt in his mouth a few times a week. It happens! My mom freaks out but now I am going to reference your post.

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