Getting on my Soapbox about Letting Kids get dirty, grimy, gritty

When I was teaching, sometimes I'd get on my soapbox about bullying, whining, popularity contests (the list really is longer).  And occasionally one of my students would pipe, "Mrs. Weicker, you need to chill out!"  My grandmother would say, "You're on your soapbox today."  My grandmother's father had a general store in Pea Ridge, NC , and she probably had  a soap box.  

In the early 1900's , a soap box was a platform used by a person who gave speeches to the working class in the streets, usually to raise awareness about some issue. The orator often stood on a soap box that was used to deliver soap from the soap maker to the retail store.  

Here's my Warhorse soapbox: Are we turning into germaphobe and dirtaphobe hypochondriacs?  Are we over sanitizing, disinfecting, fumigating, purifying, sterilizing ourselves and our homes? Are we afraid of what's lurking in our backyard dirt?

 Wow, you'd think our homes and lawns are super danger zones.  Here's how this mom makes a safer and happier home.  And it's cool how she, the disinfectant, and the decor are matching. 

When I watch those commercials where moms--it's always women--are spraying antibacterial aerosol or air fresheners in the living room, I wonder if they're breathing that stuff in. And the houses look pretty darn clean already. And mom is soooo happy while she's laying on the germ and odor killer.  Really, if it's a warm day like today, we just open the windows and doors to let in fresh air. When I worked out in the school weight room or joined in a P90 session, doing yoga on who-knows-what's-on-these-funky smelling-red wrestling mats, or washed down my classroom's 32 desks where students sat sniffling or coughin during flu season, then heck ya, give me a gallon of Lysol.  But just to spray it around my living room so we can have a fresher, happier home life?  I just don't get it.

Pretty enlightening that our society has disconnected itself from nature that we have forgotten that we used to be up close and personal with the earth. If you're looking for some outdoor activities, author Jennifer Ward has written a book that can help us engage children in nature. 

And, here's some research about THE POWER OF GERMS:

  • Children who grow up on farms have low rates of allergies and asthma. Source: Clinical & Experimental Immunology
  • Dr. Mary Ruebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor, wrote “What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment, not only does this allow for ‘practice’ of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored.”

  • Having one of more older siblings also protects against hay fever, asthma, multiple sclerosis and Type 1 diabetes. Source: Clinical & Experimental Immunology

  • "....theres nothing wrong with kids playing in the dirt. They don't have to live in total sanitation." Joel Weinstock, chief of gastroenterology/heptology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. 

I am not a microbiologist, but my common sense tells me this: If you don't use it, you lose it. Muscles need to work so they get stronger, and I would think our immune systems needs to encounter some germs and microbes, so it grows stronger too. 

Besides a possible immune boost, there's other advantages to getting up close and personal with our earth: If a kid is in the dirt, in the woods, in the field, exposed to the elements, trekking the hill, on the water, with other children doing the same thing, he or she is often investigating, playing, working, competing and NOT sedentary and glued to the television, the computer, the phone.  

Plus, everybody gets some great memories fishing & eating flounder sandwiches for lunch.

    ...this reminds me I need to get up and get outside...keep a sunny Sunday afternoon date with my kayak and Lake Adger...