It is official. Without intention, I have passed my germ obsession onto my son. This has brought me to the realization that I must make a change.
I have always been germ-phobic and it escalated when I became a Mom. As I found out, I am not a true germaphobe because I do not have OCD. Still, some of my habits cause even my best of friends to tease me about my behavior with cleanliness.
We are big on washing hands at our house and my kids use anti-bacterial as a verb. “Don’t eat your snack until you anti-bacterialize!” My sons will warn each other. I was proud that they wouldn’t touch public doors or elevator buttons with anything other than their elbows. But it is the behavior of my six year old that it causing me concern.
He began first grade this year. On his second day of school he announced that there was a boy in his class that didn’t wash his hands after going to the bathroom. “He didn’t?” I surprisingly asked. “No!” My son exclaimed, just as appalled as I was. “Maybe next time if he forgets, you can remind him.” I answered, proud to have a good suggestion. I didn’t notice that my husband raised his eyebrows as I spoke. He waited until my son left the room before he turned to me and said, “Do you want to get him beat up?!?” I was stunned. I thought my answer was very helpful. “He’s a boy,” my husband reminded me. “He just needs to worry about his own behavior, not what other kids do in the bathroom.”
His obsession with germs only got worse as school progressed. He uses his shirt to open door knobs and gets bruises on his elbow because he uses it daily to hold open the bathroom door that he doesn’t want to touch.
I was horrified. What have I done? My poor, poor kids.
This has brought me to the conclusion that while being clean is good, I do not want my children to be obsessed with avoiding germs. I have been forced to not only change what I tell them but change my behavior as well. It has not been easy for me. But I bite my tongue, cringe inside and show them how to not be so uptight. I will encourage them to continue to be good at washing their hands and hope that keeps them from getting sick.