Julie Kemp Pick
Recently ABC World News featured a story about how the "Birth Order Effect" plays an important role in determining if your older child is more likely to develop food allergies and "conditions that affect the nose and mouth respectively than their younger siblings." The study attributes this to the "hygiene hypothesis: in preparing for their firstborn to come home, parents may hyper-sterilize their environments. By the time babies 2 and 3 come around there are more germs and the younger siblings may develop stronger immune systems." Unfortunately, both my kids often walk around sneezing, coughing, clearing their throats and are in desperate need of portable spittoons. My house was surgically scrubbed for many years and I ruined both of their lives so there! There is something to be said about older siblings reportedly having higher IQ scores and my brother quotes this study on a daily basis.
Maybe if I hadn't been so neurotic about cleaning when my boys were growing up, they wouldn't have spent most of their freshman year in college at the infirmary. As they will gladly tell you, the fact that they stayed up all hours of the night doing who knows what had nothing to do with it. If only I had subscribed to the 5 second rule where they could eat anything off of the ground no matter where it may land, as long as they pick it up within 5 seconds. I shudder to think of the possibilities, as I imagine one of my sons scraping up a Tic Tac from the bottom of a Porta-potty counting to 5 in slow motion.
To counter attack the poisons in his system, I am calmed by the thought of him washing his hands while singing Happy Birthday for 15 seconds. Yeah right! Of course, the hand soap dispenser would be motion activated, so he wouldn't have to actually touch it. Suddenly, I'm reminded of the scene in The Aviator where Leonardo Di Caprio portrays Howard Hughes. It takes place in the men's room and there are no towels left, so panic-stricken H.H. is trapped inside until someone else touches the door handle for him.
With all of the new strains of the flu virus, E coli bacteria, and infections too numerous to mention, we are inundated with preventative products in the marketplace. Advertisers are counting on scaring consumers into purchasing everything from anti-bacterial wipes to vitamins that boost the immune system. Is it preparedness or paranoia? On second thought, I'm not going to apologize for keeping my floors clean enough for my babies to crawl on. Now that they're living on their own for 9 months out of the year, if they want to roll around in filth, I'm just glad I don't have to see it.