Occasionally I see articles talking about how too much cleanliness is thought to be linked to allergies. Kids need to be exposed to sufficient pathogens to give their immune system something to do, they admonish. Let your kids out into nature a little.

I don’t think I’m the kind of parent they’re worried about.

The other day after we got home from errands, Nathan emptied our water bottle into a bare patch of the herb garden. I’m not sure if this was intended to amuse Ryan (who was sitting right there), or if that was just a happy accident. But Ryan, who is always interested in dirt, was even more interested in mud. A mud-splashing and -tasting fest ensued. This in turn amused Nathan. (I admit, I was taking the opportunity of my children playing in mud to put away groceries.)

I didn’t think much of it, to be honest. I try to keep Ryan from eating too much dirt or sand — you don’t want, for example, gritty poo. But a few tastes here and there? Practically inevitable. Why fight it?

And apparently I don’t anymore. It occurred to me recently that when Nathan was little I spent a lot of time saying “That’s not for eating.” I must have said that sentence hundreds of times. With Ryan? Maybe a dozen so far.

I have started to wonder if I’ve gotten a little too lax on this, though. Later that day, when Dave was out working on the tree beds, he said that Ryan worked his way down the entire length of the front walk, criss-crossing back and forth and stopping every few feet to taste the dirt. Apparently he’s turning into something of a connoisseur.


2 Responses to “Dirt”

  1. Roxanne Says:

    I’m with you on the relaxed-parenting thing. My kids ate their share of dirt, played with dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, wild things whenever possible, etc. But on the devil’s advocate side, parasites are a real issue. Just because our own dogs don’t carry roundworms doesn’t mean that the dirt in the park is safe. Look up “visceral larval migrans” to see what I mean.
    It’s all a balancing act, isn’t it? Thanks for your post.

    • ilex Says:

      Thanks for the tip — I did look it up, and that’s good to know. It does help that we have no pets on our property, but that doesn’t mean animals don’t cruise over our lawn occasionally.

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