My niece and her toddler daughter visited recently. Their visits are less frequent now that they live out of state, which makes the visits bittersweet. A visit is very memorable, indeed, when the major event of the day involves a garbage can.
The little one is almost two now. She runs everywhere, and “no” is her favorite word. She can find pictures on a smart phone more quickly than I can. She is a sharp little girl, but no one has trained her in OCD. I know deep down that this is a good thing, but when it ends up affecting me in a rather traumatic way, I wish that I had a larger role in her upbringing.
I had several relatives at the house that day, and we were all in the kitchen and dining room area eating and chatting. Before I could blink, my grandniece had run over to the trash can and started playing with the lid. My eyes grew wide and my heart sank as I watched and tried to decide what to do. I looked at her mother and the rest of the family, and two or three others saw what she was doing. If I pulled her away, I would become contaminated myself. Her mother finally realized what was happening and stopped her. Then what? A super-shower for the little tyke? No, no one batted an eye. It was as if nothing horrific had happened. They continued to hand her food, and in her innocence, she used her tiny, grubby hands to eat.
Was it over? Not quite. When it came time to say our sad goodbyes, my brother (her grandfather) was holding her, and she looked at me and puckered up her precious lips. It was one of those split-second decisions. Do I come up with an excuse, or do I do it and deal with it? I was not likely to see her again for several months. I caved and gave her a peck on the lips. One factor that swayed me to make that decision was that they were on their way out the door, and I could take care of the contamination promptly. As soon as the door was closed, I went to my package of wet wipes and started rubbing away. The tip of my nose did not escape the incident unscathed either, so it, also, was the object of a dozen wipes. I topped it all off with several swishes with the alcohol-based mouthwash, and all was back to normal, at least that’s what I had to tell myself.
When I was a toddler, I, too, was blissfully unaware of germs. I undoubtedly played with the garbage can all the time, and I somehow survived. I think the rumblings of OCD began very early with me, though. I recall something that occurred when I was not more than seven. I was outside in the yard with my mother, and she was talking with the neighbor lady. The neighbor also had a daughter and a dog, too. The other little girl was around four or five years old, and she was holding and licking an ice cream cone. The ice cream was just too tempting for Fido, and he leaned in and took a lick himself. And there they stood, dog and child eating together, with mother looking on without a flinch. I, as a six or seven year old, was grossed out. If a small child can understand that it is wrong, why can’t adults?
On that note, I hope you enjoy what the experts have to say about people and pets swapping saliva and what not.