I’m talking to YOU!
Yep, you. You who brought your kid (4 years old?) into a public restroom. You who patiently waited for your kid to finish taking care of business, only to yell, “Come on, you know we’re late. We don’t have time for that!” and drag him out the door, when your kid tries to head to the sink to wash his hands…
Before we go any further, allow me to explain a couple things about myself…
I have kids.
I’m a realist.
I know that once kids are brought into the picture all hopes of being completely sanitary go out the window. I’ve wiped butts. I’ve cleaned up throw up. I’ve shared silverware with sick kids. I’ve watched kids eat food off of tabletops, floors, and park benches. (Not that I readily encourage this, but I get that sometimes it happens). I’ve even woke up at 1:13 in the morning to a crying kid who’s soaked his sheets, and thrown an old bath towel over it and told him to go back to sleep. As parents, we’ve ALL done NASTY things. Things most of us would NEVER admit to in public.
And I get being busy and in a hurry. Anyone who has kids, knows what it’s like to be running ten minutes late, with a little person dragging his short little legs as fast as he can, twenty feet behind you. We all know that feeling dude. So don’t think I’m asking you scrub your kid from fingertips to armpits with bleach and brillo pads.
As a parent I also realize that public restrooms are completely out of touch with how tall your child is. They can barely get their little hands under the running water. Let alone turn on the water and dispense the soap on their own… I get that your kid can’t actually wash his hands. You have to do that. Any good parent knows that this process generally involves YOU splashing some water on your kid’s hands. While your child splashes the mirror. And your shirt sleeves. And the bathroom floor. Then YOU get to soap little hands that never really get rinsed because your kid is too busy turning the restroom into a waterpark to be bothered with hand washing technique. And I get that when you get done all of that and dry your hands off, which are now cleaner than your kid’s hands, you’ll be leaving the restroom holding a still wet, often soapy, little hand… Then sometime later, you as the parent will use your still slightly damp shirttails to dry his hands, wipe his running nose, and wipe off the chocolate (we as parents aren’t 100% sure what that gunk around the kid’s mouth actually is, so we’ll pretend that’s chocolate!). That’s life as a parent!
I get it. I’m not expecting operating room sterility.
But I’m a firm believer that you owe it to the kid (and to the general public) to at least make an effort at basic cleanliness and disease prevention… All I’m asking for is decency. Teach your kid that washing hands (even if it turns into a soapy, splashy, fiasco of a wet tee shirt contest and turns the bathroom floor into a ceramic slip n slide) is something that happens after using the restroom. EVERY TIME! It’s like buckling your seatbelt when you get in a car, or silencing your cell phone when entering a movie theater. Allow your child the basic dignity of not being a filthy pig. After all we don’t want him to grow up like you!