Of Dirt and Fun

Dirt and funLong ago and far away I used to not mind dirt – as much. Some 20 years ago my friend Annette and I traveled budget through China and I remember finding the bathroom situation in particular a little yucky at times but nothing I couldn’t handle (well, there was the incident in the completely grimy bathroom of the all male foreign student dormitory where I slipped and fell – into the grime – completly naked just as a young Arab student opened the door to get in and take a shower – but I’d rather not be reminded of that story in too much detail).

Dirt everywhere – he couldn’t care less

Dirt on his fingers, hands, face, clothing – dirt everywhere. I had to get used to that!

I don’t know what happend to that person of 20 years ago – call it maturity, wisdom or paranoia – but I have become a lot less, let’s call it accepting, when it comes to dirt. Sometimes I feel like Bree Vandekamp of “Desperate Housewives” forever cleaning here and wiping there or running after Max with “Wet Ones”, a piece of kitchen roll or toilet paper in my hand. He is a kid and as such seems to be lacking any sense of dirt, yuck, ick, bacteria,viruses, or grime. He’ll walk on the side walks running his fingers along the houses (strictly forbidden, I might add) picking up discharged cigarettes buds or almost empty and open Coke bottles holding them upside down (so they drip all over him) declaring with a stern face “some stupid person threw it here instead of a trash can” and then goes off trying to find the nearest trash can. Now, the “stupid person” thing is Uli”s and my doing, we wanted to instill some sense of environmental protection in him early and obviously succeeded a bit too well. I never meant him to kneel on the ground in the middle of Merida picking up the pieces of a broken beer bottle.

And then there are the pigeons. Ever since my first semester of studying biology, when we had to disect a pigeon wearing masks and gloves because of possible salmonella contamination, I hate them with a vengenance. And, of course, Max loves them, loves to chase them, loves to feed them, loves to run around a big flock of them and I am constantly thinking: salmonella, dirt, pigeon poop – yuck!! There is this eternal internal fight going on:

Uptight me: “Just run over and drag him out of this digusting mess”

Chill me: “Oh, just chill, it won’t kill him and he is having so much fun along with 20 other kids who aren’t excatly looking moribund themselves”

Uptight me: “But the dirt, but the salmonella, it’s disgusting”

Chill me:”Stop being so germaphobe, a bit of dirt will just strengthen his immune system”

Uptight me: “Yeah, after nearly killing him with some rare nasty disease.”

… and so on and so forth.

I am trying to settle on a middle ground, I let him play with the pigeons but he cannot run his fingers along the walls and more importantly he cannot eat ice-cream with the dirty fingers because he will lick off the first little droplet of ice-cream that sticks to his fingers dirt or not (just imagine). The whole idea makes me shiver in disgust … where is that antiseptic wipe??