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Kids are gross. I'm not being mean, they really can be. Just this morning, I walked past my boys' bathroom and noticed that the toilet paper was out. I made a mental note to myself to get a new roll, and then completely forgot.  It was only after I got home from work and walked past the bathroom that I remembered. Mind you, both kids had gotten ready for school that morning (and presumably used the bathroom in a way that might need said sanitary cleaning product.) Who knows what they substituted for that missing roll of paper, if they used anything at all.

A couple weeks ago, I was reading to the first graders at school and found myself totally distracted by the number of kids who were not just fidgeting, but also picking their nose, scratching themselves, coughing and clearing lots of mucus-y sounding stuff (only to presumably swallow it so they could do it all over again), and picking at their hair/skin/pants/scabs/whatever. It was so overwhelming that I was getting a tad bit squeamish. I guess when young kids sit to relax, they forget that other people see the things they do as they sit "quietly" and it was downright gross.

Alright, alright. Yes, these are just kids being kids. I'm down with that. But if you had a friend or a group of friends that did that, wouldn't you be just a little disgusted? Seriously, since I have had kids, I have been peed on countless times; wiped up all sorts of stinky diarrhea off the toilet seat, the floor, and other things that really don't make sense as to how it got there; picked the most humongous boogers out of their noses; thrown away underwear because they apparently can't wipe themselves; and sat in pee when all I was trying to do was go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It's nasty. Why didn't anybody ever tell me that as a parent you are going to find yourself close to the brink of getting a little urpy on somewhat regular basis?

My youngest has an incredibly sensitive gag reflex. Apparently, this runs on my husband's side of the family (thus explaining his inability to pick up dog throw-up and clean the cat box.) My older son used to get a huge kick out of doing things to see if he could make his little brother throw-up. Nothing is funnier to a mid-to-late elementary school kid than chewing up a granola bar and then spitting it out in his hand just to watch his brother spew whatever he had for lunch. Yep, it is hilarious. (I guess.)

This gag reflex comes into especially nasty territory when the poor little guy is sick with some kind of stomach virus. It goes like this, "Mom, I'm gonna throw up!" BLEECH! all over the floor at that very second. Nope, I don't even get a chance to get him onto the tile floor much less take two steps in a mad dash to find the throw up bucket (yes, a very important investment if you are a parent.) It's like the second he says it BAM! There it is! Yuck!

Last spring, we had a lovely 48-hour period where he threw up 14 times. Of the 14 times, he hit the bucket once.  Of the 14 times, he hit the wood floor once. Of the 14 times, 12 were in places that are really hard to clean. I'm talking about places like on the rug in the living room, between the cushions on the couch, in his shoe that was right next to the couch, on his bed rails, in the middle of his bedroom floor, and on the coffee table (that had magazines, books and a Lego set on it.) I felt like I couldn't turn around without needing to pick up another huge glob of really stinky goo.

It wasn't that he didn't have his bucket right next to him for the majority of these accidents. He just couldn't get to it fast enough. (However, almost every time he did have enough time to say, "Mom, I'm gonna…")  You feel for the kids when they are doing this. You really do. When they are throwing up, suddenly that whole "barfing your brains out" saying seems very real. They can't help it. And they feel bad. 

This is where your parenting instincts kick in. As you madly scrub and wipe up the mess, you say in your most loving, patient mommy voice, "Oh honey, it's no big deal. Everyone does it. You’re going to be just fine." For some reason, as a parent you are able to mask what you are really thinking ("Really? On the couch! The bucket is 4 inches from you and you couldn’t grab it in time! Oh my God! I'm going to take some duct tape and strap that bucket to your body for the next go around.") just so the poor little kid doesn't feel bad. It's the strangest thing. 

I guess that's one of the things kids are for. We are constantly learning about ourselves as we deal with them. We learn the buttons that set us off, the things we have to let roll off our backs, and the things we have to be serious and stern about. We learn that kids are kids. We are here to make sure that some day, they will have the patience to deal with their own kids, and learn to laugh at even the worst things. (Even if it stinks for a few weeks after.) 

Mollie Protzman

Mollie Protzman


Mollie is an Omaha native and a mom of two boys ages 13 and 8. She's been married for 20 years and spent most of those first 10 years living in various cities around the country. Before kids, she was in marketing communications and public relations and then stayed home with her boys for 11 years while doing freelance writing on the side. The day after her youngest one went to kindergarten, she just about went berserk with the quiet in the house and nothing constructiv ...

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