My two young sons and I are using a bathroom at a pizza place. A woman walks in as we are washing our hands. My 3-year-old is up to his elbows in soapy bubbles and he is chanting, “Kill the germs! Kill the germs!” My 5-year-old dries his hands and is careful to only touch things in the bathroom with the paper towel. He turns to open the door for us, using only his elbow to do it. The woman stares at me, her eyes filled with confusion. My eyes meet hers and I give her a weak smile and shrug. I have taught my kids well. I am a germaphobe.
As it turns out, I am not an actual germaphobe. True germaphobes have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Germaphobes is the term to describe people who become obsessed with germs and dirt and feel compelled to act out rituals of washing and cleaning (found on MedicineNet.com). I do not have the ritual of cleaning and washing but that doesn’t keep me from visualizing germs everywhere. Shopping carts, hotel rooms (the carpet, phone and TV remote are the worst) and especially shoes are just some of the nastiest things.
My baby is one and not yet walking. Since he crawls and then puts his hands in his mouth, I am obsessed with what could be on my floors. I am one of those annoying people that will ask you to remove your shoes when you come into my house. The truth is, with every pair of shoes that enter my house, I cannot stop thinking about the numerous places those shoes may have walked. I actually visualize your shoes in a dirty restaurant bathroom or stepping on the sidewalk where someone just spit. These are the shoes that are now walking on my carpet that my baby crawls on with his chubby little hands that he shoves into his mouth to sooth his teething pain. The very thought of it disgusts me.
I make a mental note of every toy that someone accidently stepped on or gently kicked out of their path. Chances are, I will wash all his toys just in case I missed one that may have touched someone’s shoe.