Children need to eat a peck of dirt before they grow up. Have you ever heard that? It has been around a long time and if you’d been reared in the way I was, you’d believe it. I read recently in a magazine that germs in good clean dirt can teach a child’s immune system the difference between good and bad bacteria and save them developing allergies.
Here are some things you can do to strengthen your children’s immune systems.
1. Encourage them to bite their nails. Remember, though, it can be as habit-forming as smoking, so you have to take that into consideration. If they do take up smoking, they can get the nicotine they come to crave, from electronic cigarettes and by-pass the tar that would coat their lungs. That would be good, but it has nothing to do with nail biting.
2. Let them kiss the dog. You can even let the dog lick their faces. Now why didn’t I get to do this? My parents thought the dog’s tongue had been in terrible places and let me know about it. But you know what, as it turns out dogs have healing stuff in their saliva, so I could have been just as chummy with my dear dog as I wanted to be. Oh, well, it’s all saliva under the bridge.
3. Don’t bathe them every single day. In this case for sure a little dirt won’t hurt. But, what about the sheets, what about sand in their beds? Well, if they wet their beds, you have to change the sheets every night and every morning, anyhow. The kids have to have a bath too, so bathe them in the morning when you change the sheets and everything will be good and clean all day. I mean the sheets will be clean. We hope the kids will find a little dirt to play in. I had no idea how complicated this might become.
4. Put the baby’s pacifier in your mouth to clean it off. Don’t forget, though, babies are deadly. I’ve caught my best colds just from sharing a bite of cookie. Besides, I don’t mind doggy spit, but baby’s? Yuk, no.
Now here’s my childhood experience and I’m really quite healthy. The worst disease I’ve ever had was the flu and that only a couple times in my life. No, I don’t get flu shots, but you go right ahead. I’m not responsible for what you do.
Anyhow, my childhood girlfriend, Suzie Q., and I emailed our memoirs to each other one cold winter. That was fun. We were as honest as we could be. One thing we discovered was that we lived an incredibly dirty life. Everywhere we went there was dirt—the school playground was all dirt. It had scattered pieces of old broken glass here and there. (The broken glass was a treasure. We saved it and used it to play hopscotch.) My brother and I liked to explore the prairie and vacant lots. Susie Q’s brothers had a thriving fishing-worm business. That was not a clean job. And here’s the clincher…none of us ever took a bath more than once a week. We may have washed our hands now and then, though. I really can’t remember, I had to wash dishes every day so why would I need to wash my hands?
Did the dirt show? Yes. Once when I stayed at Grandmother’s she noticed that my elbows were crusted with ground-in dirt. Even though I did bathe once a week, no one cared how clean I got. The more Grandmother scrubbed, the more determined she became to remove that offending layer of skin. Oh, goodness, my elbows haven’t been dirty for a minute since.
But I like Suzie Q’s story better. Her bath usually took place on Saturday night, but one Friday after school, her aunt and cousin came through town on their way home. They invited Suzy to attend a school program the cousin was in, and they left in a hurry taking a change of clothes for Suzie.
Suzie got the first bath. She was company, after all. She’d never had the first bath before because she had two older brothers who out ranked her. Yep, water was scarce. Most families bathed the whole bunch in the same few inches, one at a time, of course. Here’s good news, though, in my mother’s family, they always bathed the baby last! Anyhow, on the night of the play when Suzie finished taking all the dirt off her skin, she found it was stuck to the inside of the bathtub. There wasn’t anything she could do but dry off and get dressed for the play. She was so embarrassed when her kindly aunt simply cleaned the tub and drew new water that she never forgot it.
Dirt is good, but here in Florida, we have lot of sweat, especially in the summertime. In America, stale sweat is rude, so even though we often have water shortages, too, we still have to bathe more frequently than we might wish. We also get sand in our shoes, we have sand almost everywhere, but unfortunately, we have no dirt.