Toddlers are walking petri dishes. It's a wonder all moms don't buy stock in Kleenex with the amount of snot exiting the nostrils of their precious little ones. Between daycare and playdates, small children are exposed to an enormous number of insidious microbes. From the common cold to hand-foot-mouth disease, 2- and 3-year-olds are veritable bacteria and virus magnets. I have to give it to them, though. Toddlers are resilient AF. Resilient... and generous. As you watch their tiny bodies valiantly fighting off those infections, you'll soon discover the many creative ways toddlers spread germs.
During her 2.5 years on the planet, my daughter has blessedly been mostly healthy (*knocks on every wooden surface within reach*). She's lucky in that she inherited her dad's "my white blood cells are superior to yours" immune system. So it was an unpleasant surprise when, last week, she spiked a fever and vomited (on me, because of course). I prayed to all that I hold holy that it wasn't the flu (she had her shot, but you never know which strain you're dealing with). The next morning, I got an email from her preschool that there was a case of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in her classroom. Her symptoms seemed to fit, so we buckled in for a some days at home. In the five days it took for her to get well, I swear that kid did her damnedest to infect every other member of our household.
To be clear, I don't actually think my baby girl is maliciously trying to get me sick, but when she does the following, it's hard not to feel personally victimized:
By Coughing Directly Into Your Mouth
They might not be able to open doors yet, but toddlers somehow know that the best way to pass germs is directly via your facial orifices.
By Showing Their "Love"
You know that thing kids do where you think they're hugging your leg but really they're wiping their noses on your pants? And then you're walking around with a science fair experiment on your leggings? Yeah, been there.
My kid is relatively stingy in showing affection, but I swear there's nothing like a viral infection to make her want to kiss me on the mouth.
By Sharing Food
My child is basically Joey from Friends because she doesn't share food. She guards her bunnies jealously. And foods of the chocolate chip variety? Don't even think about it. Sickness, however, apparently makes her benevolent in the snack department... as long as I'm willing to accept the cracker she's been gumming for the last few minutes. Too late. It's already in my mouth.
By Sticking Their Hands Down Their Pants
By Refusing To Wash Said Hands
My daughter normally loves washing her hands. It's basically water play for her. A few days before she got sick, though, she start balking. That's probably why she got sick. That and, you know, attending that bastion of plague otherwise known as preschool.
I've insisted, despite her protests. According to WebMD, handwashing is basically the number one way to stop germs in their tracks. However, as any mom will tell you, it's not that easy to make a 30 lb. toddler do anything they don't want to.
By Putting Said Hands On Your Face
Sick toddlers love to play that game where they name all your body parts. Naturally, this means they put their dirty little hands all over your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. And we've already established where those hands have been.
By Insisting On Bed-Sharing
When your young child is waking up themselves up coughing and needing comfort multiple times a night, it might just seem easier to bring them into bed with you. It's pretty hard to resist a sad, sick toddler who says, "Mommy, I sleep with you?" But suddenly, you're looking at eight hours in close contact with an albeit adorable living pathogen.
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