Thanks to their natural curiosity and being positioned so freakishly close to the ground, little kids are constantly getting into (or trying to get into) gross things. Like what? Well -- as long as you’re not eating -- here are nine things that make me go “ugh.”
1. Candy Off Dirty Floors
Most little children don’t care about germs or dirt. And that’s why their response to candy they find on the floor is the same as it is to candy they find in a box. Someone dropped some candy on the floor? It’s been lying there for ages, collecting dust and making friends with bugs? It doesn’t even have a color anymore? It’s just gray and furry? Doesn’t matter. To a kid, candy is candy.
2. Cigarette Butts
If it seems like cigarette butts are everywhere, it’s because they are. According to many experts, they’re the world’s most abundant litter problem. We adults know that they’re carcinogenic, filthy pieces of trash. But to toddlers, these little pieces of poison are magical mystery sticks. Why are little kids so interested in cigarette butts? Well, for one thing, it’s because they can’t read the warning labels.
3. Feminine Hygiene Waste Receptacles
Maybe it’s because they’re at a toddler’s eye-level. Maybe it’s because they’re nice and shiny. Or maybe it’s because they have lids that remind kids of opening presents. Whatever it is, those unbelievably enticing waste receptacles make it hard for moms locked in tiny stalls with toddlers to use public restrooms. We want to do what we came into the stall to do, and our little children want to open the silver box to claim their prize.
4. Urinal Cakes
Speaking of revolting things that are enticing to children in restrooms, let’s talk urinal cakes! Men are the lucky ones who have to play keep-away with these brightly colored rounds of yuck. You sure need to be agile and lightning quick when you accompany a small child into a bare room decorated with one -- and only one -- interesting item. And, just how enticing do they look? Well, according to Wikipedia, other common names for the urinal deodorizer block are urinal mints, urinal biscuits, urinal cookies and urinal doughnuts. Sounds like the selection one would find in the world’s most horrifying bakery.
“They’re so convenient! They’re always around! They’re there when you’re bored!!” That’s the commercial I would make for boogers if asked. (True, I doubt anyone’s asking.) Of course, dried nasal mucus doesn’t need a commercial. Every kid out there will discover it on his or her own at some point. And when she or he does, it’s as if no one on Earth has ever thought of sticking a finger up a nostril before. “What are you doing? Nooooo!”
6. Old Band-Aids
Band-Aids are a huge kiddo favorite. Once they hit preschool, children love to use them whether they have actual injuries or fake ones. And babies and toddlers? If they’re lucky enough to spot one, babies love to touch them and, sometimes, even suck on them. (After all, they’re obsessed with tags, which are awfully similar to Band-Aids.) And I’m not talking about their own, grubby Band-Aids. I wish I was talking about their own, grubby Band-Aids! It would barely register with me if it was just their own, grubby Band-Aids! No, I’m talking about a stranger’s yucky ole’ Band-Aid that fluttered to the ground after its adhesive gave out while attempting to heal a mysterious injury or -- gulp -- infection.
7. Germy Water-Fountain Spigots
In 2005, a team of scientists found that the water-fountain spigots they studied had 1,000 times more bacteria than the toilet seats they examined. “Spigots, because they're very moist, they collect a lot of germs, and that was something that we were really surprised to find had more germs than, say, a toilet.” That’s a quote from an interview NPR conducted years ago with a microbiologist. And that’s why, when I see my youngest kid drink from a water fountain -- by wrapping his mouth, Mick Jagger style, around the spigot -- I wonder if he’d be better off drinking from, say, a toilet.
OK. You got me. Little kids don’t necessarily like backwash. But they don’t exactly have an aversion to it, either. And if I had the choice between sharing a bottle of water with a complete stranger, or sharing it with one of my very own children after they polished off a bowl of Goldfish crackers … well, I’d probably flip a coin. When young children first start drinking from cups and bottles, they take one step forward and two steps back. That one step is a sip. And those two steps the other way? They’re backwash.
9. Toilet Bowls
Here’s the thing: Kids love to play with water. But there aren’t a lot of opportunities to find water at home. Sinks are too high. Bathtubs are kept empty. But toilet bowls? Toilet bowls are located low to the ground and are always filled with water. As Goldilocks would say, they’re just right! And that’s great for little kids -- and not so great for the rest of us.
What else? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments -- if you dare!
We all have our “ick” moments so clean what you can. You can depend on Clorox disinfecting products to remove germs, bacteria, and other nasties from lots of things that your little ones get their paws on.