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A Little Dirt

October 15, 2010

I was out strolling LPK around our community today and we ran into several other mothers out with their strollers.  As I passed each woman and child I cordially nodded hello and gave the obligatory “what a sweetie you have” remark.  In particular, there were two little girls I noticed who were oh so adorable.  They had their hair curled and braided and the sweetest little outfits with matching hair ribbons.  They were even wearing those cute lace trimmed socks that I adored as a kid and you could smell the copious amount of sunblock that was smeared across their fair skin.  While I was noting the cuteness factor of their girls, both mother’s gave the contents of my stroller an appraising glance and– did I detect a small look of disapproval?

I didn’t think much of it until I reached my destination: a shady, quiet bench.  I sat down and turned the stroller around only to discover: a little monster inside.  My precious boy had succeeded in smearing the entire contents of his very prolific nostrils across his face resulting in huge dry, green strings stuck in his eyebrows, eyelashes and clinging to his cheeks.  Couple that with the remnants of his tomato-y lunch still smiling cheerfully at me in a perfect circle around his lips, not to mention the huge red splatters up and down his pastel outfit and those very tan, ever barefoot, legs — I had to fight the momentary urge to cover him with my jacket and try to sneak the half-mile back home without being seen.

Instead I picked off the dried gunk and we continued on our merry way.  Stains and all.

I promise I clean my baby 🙂

The problem is that a little dirt doesn’t bother me.

I don’t (not yet anyway) have many hard and fast parenting rules for myself (beyond love my babies with all my heart and never buy a travel system stroller set).

I do want my children to have a fabulous childhood and, in my mind, I’ve narrowed down the three things that I loved best about my own childhood:

1. My imagination
2. My siblings
3. Open land to roam

Cleanliness didn’t even make the rankings.  I loved nice clothes, but what good was the most gorgeous dress if you couldn’t take it down to the creek and imagine the most romantic stories? I never want my children to fear getting dirty– is that a silly thing to wish for them?

I remember one Easter morning my sisters and I were all done up in our new easter dresses, fresh from our showers and as we waited for the our mother to finish getting the babies ready, we realized that it was, quite simply, the most gorgeous spring day we had had that year.  In a flash, we were out of the house and headed towards the fields.  The spring thaw had left a small running brook under a fallen tree we called Rainbow Bridge.  Socks and shoes were left in the grass, we hiked up our skirts and waded and played and crawled up and down that tree trunk until the car horn called us to load up for Mass.  My mother didn’t say a word, even though a good 50% of her children showing up for the most well attended Mass of the year entirely bedraggled and smelled like wild animals.  It was one of the best Easters ever.


Some of my sisters and me (second from L) on an earlier Easter



At some point, probably much later than most girls, I started to care about my clothes and having clean fingernails and not smelling like the outdoors (which, when you live next to to a hog farm is not always the best of smells).  But, some of my childhood nonchalance still resides in me:

  • I am the most non-germaphobic person in the world.
  • I love walking barefoot outside (unless there are nettles around… or it’s snowing… although I’ve done both before on multiple occasions…. ouch and double ouch)
  • I routinely wear baby spit-up and boogers to work because, yeah, I just don’t notice that stuff

My son gets a bath every night and his skin is extremely washable (so are his clothes).  So I don’t chase him around all day with a wet wipe for every nose dripping and misplaced food smudge.  If he ends up staining his outfits– well, it was probably a fun experience and I buy most of his clothes used for just that reason.

Maybe my opinions will change one of these days.  I hope not, though.  Not caring about getting dirty is one of the most freeing aspects of childhood.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2010 11:08 am

    Gosh, I really do love you more and more each day.

  2. Adriana permalink
    October 17, 2010 7:01 pm

    i really enjoyed this entry 🙂 i too am usually covered in drool, snot, whatever babyness (i do wash off poop though haha) and im sure 90% of my clothing has it at the end of the day.

    it drives me crazy when some parents are so anal about keeping their kids clean! (ie, gaia’s parents go crazy if she spills food on her clothes. im like, hellooooo shes 14mo, she’s learning how to feed herself, shes going to spill! But no! and she hates wearing a bib to eat, lunchtime is a hassle). Sigh.

  3. October 17, 2010 9:04 pm

    Yep, Monkey is clean for only the first few minutes after getting dressed in the morning. After breakfast he’s usually got oatmeal everywhere. I agree with you, it’s no worth getting stressed about these kind of things 🙂 Ps. I love walking barefoot too!

  4. November 19, 2010 12:48 pm

    I don’t freak out over dirt with my son, either. I make sure he’s comfortable (wipe off sticky hands, clean off dried gunk on face), but he goes all day in the same shirt unless he pees on it. That yogurt is not going to hurt him. And he’s just going to get more on him at lunch anyways! 🙂

  5. Gigi permalink
    December 3, 2010 2:00 am

    my mom says whites are the best…if there’s a stain just put a little bleach on it! Not being too clean is actually good for your kid’s health…it will help him develop a stronger immune system so he doesn’t get sick as much when he gets older!
    Check this out in the NY Times:
    and this article too:

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