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I’m a germophobe. To put my phobia into perspective, I have rarely, if ever, shared a cup or utensil with others (including my kids) for fear of some dreadful exposure to some unknown virus that will make me ill or cause me to go into some cationic state. To say the least, I have issues.
So having two kids who won’t clean their rooms or wash up before dinner is a problem. Not for them mind you, but for me. It’s no surprise that when I find boogers stuck to the walls of my daughter’s room, I almost gag. Then I remember that I’m a dad, brave and strong, and nothing, not even wet, gooey, tidbits of nose droppings can impact me. But some things are just too weird, sick, and disgusting. And when I see my kids do them, I ponder my sanity and that of my family.
It started off as a nice evening. We had invited some friends over for dinner, wine, and laughter. The table was set beautifully with our nice plates, not to mention wine glasses and a floral centerpiece. It was very elegant, by our standards, and I was convinced that nothing could ruin the night. I was wrong. And when my youngest daughter asked if she could show off her new “pet” to our guests, I didn’t think there was a reason to object. Little did I know, however, her new pet was a cockroach. No sooner did she place it on the table ⏤ while we were still eating, mind you ⏤ it made a beeline for one of our guests, quickly scampering onto her plate and burrowing into the mashed potatoes. Suffice to say, there was much shouting. Chairs were frantically pushed over. Drinks spilled on the floor. This time, I actually did gag.
But … sigh, this is my life. And it only gets grosser. In addition to housing exotic “pets,” my daughters are also extremely creative and enjoy making art from stuff lying around the house. One time, my eldest rummaged through our bathroom for both inspiration and a new medium for her art. And I was lucky enough to get home just in time for the big reveal ⏤ it was a beautiful picture of clouds, rain, people, and rainbows.
“Look daddy!” my daughter smiled at me. She had used cotton balls for the clouds, markers to make the rain, Q-tips as the people, and something unique for the rainbows. “What are those, hunny?” I asked. “It’s mom’s stickers,” she replied. Stickers, I thought to myself? Of course, it took a second to make the connection, but I soon realized she had raided my wife’s tampons and colored the white “stickers.” When I asked how she got “stickers” to stick on the paper, she smiled and said, “I licked them, like an envelope daddy!” Yes, my daughter licked maxi-pads, I wanted to barf. But then again, it could have been much worse ⏤ at least they were new. Longer sigh.
Not only do my daughters have a knack for finding unusual ways to gross me out, but sometimes they get others to join in the fun. Once again, we had our friends over for dinner, but this time they brought their children. Learning our lesson from the last event, the kids played in the backyard as we ate. The only problem is that my backyard is a giant litter box. There’s dirt everywhere and the cats ⏤ both ours and the neighbors ⏤ have few inhibitions about using it as their personal bathroom.
Unfortunately, my daughters are also fascinated with cat droppings. Yay. I have no idea what goes through their little heads but while most kids would naturally shy away from cat poop, mine are drawn to it. Which is why they invited our guest’s kids to a cat poop collection contest to see which one of them could pick up the most cat crap — with their hands, of course. When they finally finished, they had collected 30 cat droppings. All fine and good if they had left them in a bag in the backyard (in fact, they would have been doing me a huge favor) but that’s not what they did. Not at all. Instead, they came inside and proceeded to dump the bag in the middle of the table… while we were eating. Again, there was shouting, chairs pushed over, and drinks on the floor. One big, final sigh.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids, foibles and all. But, for some reason, I didn’t expect the number of nasty things they would do, yet have no clue that it would disgust the average human being or their germaphobic dad. I guess it’s God’s way of building my “ick” sensibilities and converting me into a father who can handle anything of ill-repute, which includes regurgitated turkey meat, sandwiches with mold, and boogers on my X-box controller. Thanks for the nasty memories girls, I love you just the same!
Zachery is a married dad of two daughters who lives in Los Angeles. He spends his days writing stories for people to enjoy.
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