pediatric housecalls Robert R. Jarrett M.D. M.B.A. FAAP

Stupid Things Fathers Do: Hand Washing

I‘ve written articles on this before: “Unintentional Learning”; but, darn-it-all, this one simply must see the open light of day.

I was walking down the isle at “Sam’s” club the other day and came across a most “sophisticated” four or five year old attempting to negotiate with a woman, who I assume was his mother, for some preferred food item. I thought to myself “now that mother has her hands full!”
If a boy ever asks to wash his hands – let him!
I decided to take a restroom break so headed in that direction just at the same time an “old enough to know better” man, slightly ahead of me, called to the boy to “hurry up” which prompted the boy to come running. They were heading in the same direction as me.

A few moments later I was drying my hands on the establishments “blow dryer” when the youngster came out of the stall and headed for the wash basin. The man, I assume it was his father, helped turn on the water for only the briefest of seconds then turned it off again much to the annoyance of the child.

The boy said “but I didn’t get any of that,” pointing to the soap dispenser.

Now here is the rub. His (again, old enough to know better) dad told him “you don’t need any of that, just water is enough.” Incredible!

boy washing handsAs a pediatrician, I knew that the adolescent stupidity of that statement just begged for some kind of correction. On the other hand as a politically correct businessman I understood the propriety of merely minding my own business. On yet another hand, as a bit of a humanitarian I saw the look on the boys face and remembered old “Hillary’s” adage that “it takes a community to raise a child.”

On still another hand, I realized that I had at least 300% more life-years than anyone else in the room, which ought to make me a more-than-enough “older person” who ought to be at least tolerated enough to be listened to. And, being emboldened by the fact that this wasn’t my own town, It didn’t seem like I had anything to stop me from saying something – if only for the sake of the patient lady waiting outside the door.

With more kindness in my voice than I thought it deserved I said “That isn’t very nice.” I got the attention from the man that I was seeking, and he said “what isn’t.”

Silly me, I thought that meant the guy was receptive, so I ventured further down the path of his enlightenment, and said: “Well, I bet his mother has gone to great lengths to teach him to use soap.” (I thought including his wife in the rationale was a stroke of genius which would win the guy over.)

The man’s eyes seemed to explode with condescending annoyance as he said “I think we’ll be able to work it out” and quickstepped the youngster out of the room, trying to dry his hands on his pants.

I’m getting too old for this! I’m convinced that he never even told the boy’s mother of the incident; so, she has no comprehension of the idiocy that she now has to “undo” in her boy’s upbringing. I hope she does figure it out! And, I hope the “brain-cells-are-missing” dad isn’t a food-handler at a restaurant somewhere.

Just for the record for all you “guy’s” out there: hand washing by dribbling water over your hands after you have handled your “manhood” isn’t much better than spitting on them and rubbing them in the dirt. (Yes, I know some of you do that in the woods when you think no one is looking.)

It doesn’t “drown” syphilis or gonorrhea germs; nor “float off” aids or other viruses. It doesn’t even “make a dent” in the thousands of E Coli germs which are found in massive numbers all over your… “stuff.”

BUT, even if you have no regard for your own hygiene, why on earth would you teach that kind of lie to your child?!!!

Mothers, I’m sorry to say that when you stand there perplexed about some things your boy does and wonder “where does he get this stuff,” you often don’t have to look very far.

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