June 2, 2016 1:31 pm No Flies on Me
“Rebecca, they aren’t organic!! Don’t go near those carrots!” Paige barked to her daughter at the grocery store.
“I can’t look at carrots anymore?”
“Looking becomes touching and that’s a big no no!”
Rebecca looked carefully from the organic to non-organic carrots, trying to figure out the difference between them. Then she slowly turned away.
“Would you like kiwis or Mt. Ranier cherries, Rebecca?”
Rebecca didn’t answer. She was examining at least a dozen different types of olives. They were black, brown or green and some had red centers.
“Rebecca, they’re full of sodium. Baaad for you! Kiwis or Mt. Ranier cherries?”
“No, thank you! What’s Sodium?”
Just then, the fruit man accidentally dropped one of the limes he was rearranging into a pyramid. Rebecca looked at it on the floor.
“Don’t you dare pick that up. That is the man’s job. DIRTY!”
Listlessly Rebecca went over to their shopping cart. Reaching and stretching for the handle to push it, she recoiled as she heard, “Rebecca, that’s filthy! People who have sneezed, held money and are just plain sick have touched that!”
Rebecca didn’t know where to go or what to even look at. She stood still as her mother continued on. When Paige was all the way down the aisle, Rebecca felt free.
She could look at candy bars and watch a baby with chocolate smeared all over his face. A man sneezed but her mother was too far to hear him.
Paige turned around to see Rebecca watching an older woman recycling her bottles.
“Rebecca, germs spray as bottles are being crushed. Away pronto!”
At last they were in their car. Paige dumped a lot of Purell on her hands and liberally applied some to Rebecca’s. Rebecca felt relieved as they headed home.
“Mommy please may we look at those ducks in the pond at the park?”
“Ducks are filthy, Rebecca. Each little feather is loaded with disgusting germs. The pond has little mayflies all around it. We would be inviting disease into our clean house. Absolutely not!”
Rebecca looked out of the car window wondering why there was always a problem. “What can I do?” her four-and-a-half little mind questioned. “Is Mommy right? Is the world really such a dirty place?” Rebecca asked herself.
As they drove past the park, Rebecca spoke up. “Tommy’s mother doesn’t think everything is dirty. I can do what I want when I’m with them. They took me to see ponies. We didn’t mind the flies. Flies landed on us and we didn’t care.”
“Rebecca, that’s just terrible news. Flies and most animals in nature carry diseases and we have to stay clear of them. We don’t want to get sick!”
“Mommy, you worry too much. Maybe from all of your handwashing, you washed the fun off of your hands. I don’t want that to happen to me. ”
Before Paige could answer, they were home. There was another car in their driveway. Rebecca squealed out her window. “Gaga, hi!! I’m so happy to see you.”
“Thank you, dear heart. How marvelous it is to see you.”
Rebecca was out of her car seat in a flash and into Gaga’s open arms. Paige minimally acknowledging her mother-in-law, said, “Hands Rebecca! To the sink!”
“Gaga, how long will you be here?” Rebecca asked, nuzzling into her grandmother’s skirt.
“For a few days. Your Daddy and Mommy are going on a little trip.”
“That’s the best news ever!” Rebecca was just beaming.
“Hello Paige dear. I’ll help you with the groceries the second Rebecca washes her hands.”
“I can do it, thanks. Make sure she really scrubs. She’s dirty from touching things in the grocery store.”
“Let’s wash those little paws, sweetheart.”
At the sink, with water running over her hands, Rebecca looked up at her grandmother. “Gaga, does everything make us sick? I mean carrots and ducks and ponies?”
Drying off Rebecca’s hands, Gaga answered, “Not around here. But if very poor people are living in very dirty places, I guess they could get sick from germs. We are lucky. We live in a beautiful part of the world. We have to do all we can to keep it this way.”
“Gaga, wanna play Go Fish?”
Carrying in the last of the groceries, Paige saw them take out the cards. Rebecca buried her face in her grandmother’s striped skirt.
“Remember to wash your hands after you play, you two. We want the cards and your hands to stay clean.”
Gaga shuffled the cards just as Rebecca loved her to. Rebecca dealt them deliberately. “Someday, I’m going to wash my hands right off, Gaga,” she said in a low voice.
They both sighed with relief as Paige walked upstairs.
Mothers instinctively want the very best for their children. Yet, in being super vigilant, Paige robbed the life from the simplest of times, and kept Rebecca from exploring anything that interested her. Hopefully, Paige will lighten up before she totally alienates her daughter and find a balance between being careful and being alive.
Written by: Anne Martine Cook, Managing Partner & Mom, with 40+ years experience teaching nursery school children.
We welcome your comments and questions.