God Made Dirt & Dirt Don't Hurt
That moment when you drop your cream cheese bagel face down while walking out to the greenhouses in the morning. You think it's all over man, that bagel has met it's demise, but then, you hear that familiar weathered voice..."God made dirt & dirt don't hurt..." You pick up your bagel, brush off the flecks of soil, pick off the grass & eat that sucker! Ya, I was that kid. My brother & I were mud pie connoisseurs, those kids that came home with dirt in their ears, under their fingernails, in their hair, just to name a few areas. We literally lived outside on those days with Grandma & Grandpa. Once we left the house in the morning to go out to the 13 greenhouses to work, the door was locked & we weren't allowed to go back inside until it was lunch time. Naps were taken in wheel barrels, noses blown in Grandma's t-shirt, & we won't talk about what we resorted to when we had to use the bathroom (I'll spare you those juicy details, lol). There is nothing wrong with the way we were raised, the time we spent, splashing in mud, getting our hands dirty with our grandparents molded us into the very people we are today.
As a first time parent most, place their first child in a protective & clean bubble. Their immune systems are developing so it would only make sense to keep the germs, dirt & grime at bay, right? Well, not this household, and not my baby. My belief is that you can only strengthen immunity by testing it, & I definitely tested it. Like that one time, walking through Meijer with my babe in his carrier, happily sucking on his pacifier, until that sucker popped out of his mouth & hit the floor. My six week old began crying, & I was only beginning this grocery trip - this was not going to go well. I picked up the pacifier, looked around at what my options were at sanitizing it. Making that new mom mistake of forgetting the wipes in the car, I felt the only option I had was sanitizing it myself. So in my mouth it went, for a good ol' fashioned spit cleaning (I can hear your gasps, I promise this story ends well...), I then popped the pacifier back in my screaming babe's mouth & on our happy way we continued. No, my child didn't have a fever, runny nose, diarrhea or other ailment after that fateful day, what he had was a test of his immune system, which has only aided in his health & wellness thus far.
This idea that dirt & germs aren't always a bad thing, isn't just my own personal belief. There are other health care providers that feel the very same, in fact there are studies, that by introducing said germs, dirt & grime in infancy, decreases the likelihood of inflammation in adulthood. Inflammation that can cause, allergies, asthma, heart disease, Alzheimer's & diabetes... just to name a few. This study, is called the hygiene hypothesis.
"Just as a baby's brain needs stimulation, input, and interaction to develop normally, the young immune system is strengthened by exposure to everyday germs so that it can learn, adapt, and regulate itself, notes Thom McDade, PhD, associate professor and director of the Laboratory for Human Biology Research at Northwestern University." Is Dirt Good for Kids? by Lisa Zamosky.
Now rewind back to my son at three months old, Thanksgiving & a large family get together. Graeme is sitting on my lap watching the hustle & bustle of our family & their pets around the house. Again, with the pacifier...onto the floor (I soon learned my lesson about pacifier clips...). I hear a gasp, a few relatives dive bomb to retrieve the pacifier with the quickness, & rush off to sanitize it, but before my dear aunt could get to the sink, I stopped her. "There is no need for that, my baby doesn't live in a bubble, it's fine, brush it off & pop it back in that little mouth of his." There was silence, & a pause. "No, seriously, it's not going to hurt him," I said with a big smile. My dear aunt placed the pacifier back in Graeme's mouth, & the conversation quickly turned to how surprised everyone was with my relaxed stance on sanitizing. A cousin, sitting a crossed from me had a huge grin on his face. He proceeded to tell me how refreshing it was to see a parent that hasn't placed their child in a cleanliness bubble. I Shared my views on antibodies & strengthening the immune system with a few tests here & there.
At my son's six month wellness check up, I asked our doctor what his stance was on Graeme eating dirt. Yes, I asked that question. He had been outside & no matter how many toys I gave him to busy himself with, he would grab a pinecone & shove that bad boy in his mouth. It was common for him to have a dirty grin. Our doctor smiled, & said that as long as Graeme wasn't suffering from diarrhea, that dirt wasn't going to hurt.
My son is now a rambunctious little toddler, who has been locked up in the house all frigid winter, & has been suffering from a week long upper respiratory infection (snot for dayssssss). The sun came out & our days have been warmer! So as you can imagine we immediately embraced the fact that spring had sprung & ventured outside. With boots on & a playful pup at our side we explored our acreage, splashed in soggy grass & tip toed around the mud puddles. Graeme wasn't so interested in them at first. After watching our pup slip & slide along, Graeme's curiosity peaked & he started to dive in. Mud, mud everywhere! All I could think of as my son's hands dug deep into the dirt & mud from the driveway, was "God made dirt & dirt don't hurt." I know my grandmother was smiling at me from her perch in that heavenly garden she's caring for above.
Although I am sure that this post has shocked a few people, & maybe caused some disgusted grimaces, the facts remain, that my son is of perfect health, has been sick with the sniffles a handful of times in his nineteen months Earth side, & I am thankful that his immune system has flourished with that good ol' fashioned dirt.