I have a confession of which I’m not especially proud. Nonetheless, I must confess. Sometimes — just sometimes — kids gross me out. Big time. I mean, I am talking the kind of squeamish that pushes me to a concealed, dark corner breathless and gagging trying everything in my power to keep my lunch down. Sometimes, again I emphasize the sometimes, kids, or more specifically kid germs, have that effect on me.
Before you label me a horrible human, allow me to explain. Then, you can label me a horrible human if you wish.
Today, I worked in a nursery for exactly 70 minutes. And in those 70 (ahem!, long) minutes, I wiped various colored mucus off crusted faces, inspected various troublesome smells and their origin, broke up toddler/baby brawls, and oversaw the typical proverbial “death watch” (i.e. preventing choking, electrocution, falling, etc.) one devotes oneself to when tasked with caring for children of all ages.
About five minutes into my time in the nursery and the third time I wiped a dripping little nose while secretly hyperventilating, I realized I have become somewhat of a Germaphobe when it comes to children. Every cough, every sniffle, and droplet of saliva — even in the form of an adorable drool — sends off a cyclical tornado siren in my head that wails "RSV! Influenza A and B! Strep Throat! Ear Infection! Fever!
On this day in the nursery, this siren began howling in my ear and I alarmingly looked for my daughter to make sure she wasn't sharing toys with any drippy-nosed, coughing "germy kids". Just as I spotted her, to my horror I realized another sweet nursery worker was wiping my daughter's dripping nose. My daughter was one of them now … She was a germy kid. Germ resistance is apparently futile in a nursery of babies and toddlers.
I had to get out of there. I was hearing voices in my head screaming Run away! Get your daughter and run away! Escape now! Take the hand sanitizer bottle on your way out! But instead of fleeing like a maniac, I mustered up the most maturity I could and sat quietly with a cute baby that wasn't showing any signs of some sort of plague or illness.
As I sat there, I started to notice the other nursery workers interacting with the children. I casually wondered, were they noticing all the germs as well? My friend was casually picking up children and talking soothingly to them. Others were excitedly preparing a game while others were taking children to the bathroom (my worst nightmare). All the other adults seemed to be coping quite well. In fact, it appeared as if they enjoyed it and were even remembering all the children's names! Whereas there I was, covertly labeling each child by type and severity of cold I thought they might have. Shame on me!
Scolding myself for being so ridiculous, I spent the rest of the time trying to emulate the other saintly nursery workers — all the while eyeing the clock as if my life depended on it. Then, when the time was up and all the parents came to collect their children (and I washed my hands and arms as if I was scrubbing in for surgery), I walked away from that nursery with one thing on my mind: A whole new appreciation for any sort of child care giver. That includes babysitters, nannies, day care center staff, teachers, nursery workers and volunteers, anyone that works with young children. It is to you, dear saints, I pay homage and deepest respects. Thank you.
I can't think of anything more important than the care and education of our young children. And in those 70 minutes of nursery time, I realized that despite my love of being a mother and the desire to be a mother of multiple children; my gifting is simply not supervising and teaching a throng of small children. It is simply not how I was created. Thankfully, there are so many out there where this is their gifting. They were created with the creativity, the sensitivity, the patience, and the supernatural loving nature that it takes to do this incredibly special and pertinent work. And, I might add, they do all of this without gagging in the corner from the innumerable germs invisibly floating around like toxic snowflakes.
So, yes. Children germs gross me out. So much so that I have actually considered buying a HazMat suit from Amazon Prime (not exaggerating; it exists). But, I will continue to volunteer in the nursery from time to time to remind myself to be forever grateful for people who are willing to watch my child. Thus, if your child ever utilizes a nursery, play room, Sunday School, classroom, etc. I urge you as parents to volunteer for a time. I promise you; you will gain an entire new level of appreciation and love for those saints that watch over your child. My only advice is to bring along a lot of hand sanitizer and perhaps don't eat a large lunch. Just in case.