While we all love our kids, even on their most trying days, we also recognize a few universal truths about them. One big one is the fact that babies and toddlers can be pretty gross. From the moment they’re born, babies are constantly drooling, spitting up, peeing, and pooping all over the place. They're like pets who haven't been housebroken but you can't just stick them in the backyard for a few hours while you take a break from their disgusting bullshit. And as if all of that wasn't challenging (for your gag reflex) enough, when they get sick, there’s snot coming out of their nose that they just don’t quite get how to blow into a tissue. But at least most of this goes away as babies get older, right?
Wrong. As they age, kids get even grosser, sneezing without covering their mouths, and then rubbing their boogery faces on the couch cushions. Or they suck on their thumbs and then pick up things like shoes, making a nice saliva and dirt past on their hand, and then suck their thumbs again. Yuck. They seriously just get grosser until they grow up.
One of the things young ones like to touch frequently, often without remembering to wash their hands, are books. I don't know what it is about books (yes, I do: it's that they're basically made of paper, ready to absorb and hang onto any and all kid grossness) but they are the child possessions most apt to get filthy. Like, "there's no chance in hell I'm touching that board book you just pulled out from under your carseat, dude" filthy. My son, for example, can’t get enough of books. We have them all over the house and he'll pick one up, scan through the pages, then throw it aside and grab another. When we go to the library, the kid goes wild, grabbing as many books as he can, oblivious to the dozens of other kids whose cooties also happens to be all over those books. Honestly, when you’re a mom, after a while, you kind of begin to forget how gross our children’s books can get. Here’s a gentle reminder (that’ll have you running for the antibacterial wipes in no time flat):
They Drool Or Chew On Them
They say that babies tend to “explore” the world using their mouths at first. This is why they’re so adamant about nibbling and chewing on not only food but also their toys, their hands, their feet, your feet, anything that’s within arm’s reach. So when you give them a book, they’re not sure what to make of it. But even once they do more or less get the concept, they still frequently end up chewing on the corners of board books or accidentally keeping their mouths open a little too long, letting drool spill on to the covers, or even the pages.
They Might Bring Them Into The Bathroom For Potty Time
When you start the journey into potty training, you might let your kiddo bring a book into the bathroom to read while they wait for...things to happen. But as any parent knows, you can’t really trust kids where bathrooms are concerned. There’s always the possibility your child pees on the floor and drops their book on the puddle, or decides to dump the book into the already-used potty. Or maybe they get some bodily fluids on their hands and proceed to touch the pages. Some parents might throw the book out and call it a day. Others might be optimistic and wash and disinfect the literal shit out of the book. But seriously, could you really trust a book to land back on your bed when it was at one time smeared with the remnants of yesterday’s lunch?
Milk Always Gets Spilled On Them At Least Once
Who reading this hasn’t encountered a copy of the ABCs with a page or two stuck together? And the culprit in these cases always ends up being the same: spilled milk. Sure, they say not to cry over spilled milk but when it accidentally falls into a child’s favorite bedtime book? There will surely be at least a few tears (not to mention a few library books to be replaced).
They Drop Them On And Kick Them Around The Floor
My toddler is currently going through a rock star phase where he throws whatever he’s done with directly to the ground. Maybe he found a Lonely Island video and got his inspiration there. I don’t know. The point is, every time we read a book now, he is immediately compelled to toss it down as soon as we’re done. It’s an on-going battle (that I’m losing), but either way, my floor isn’t always squeaky clean. That means dirt and grime from the outside of the house are slowly making our board books grosser and grosser. (The further we get into this list, the more I’m pretty sure after writing this I’m going to have to run to my kid’s bookshelf and decontaminate everything.)
They Sneeze On Them And Make Them Into Portable Carriers For Communicable Diseases
Because very young children don’t quite get the need to cover their mouths when they sneeze, they have a tendency to spray their sickly little germs all over the place. This also occurs when they’ve got a book on hand and inadvertently spray their cold and flu onto the pages of The Little Engine That Could. If not wiped away immediately, these air-borned illnesses will hang out on the book, waiting for the next unsuspecting person to pick it up and not wash their hands. And suddenly everyone in your house is sick and it’s all thanks to a book (OK, maybe that’s a bit extreme...but it’s still gross).
They Always Manage To Spill Some Kind Of Food On Them
Once your wee one is at the age where they're able to eat solid foods, they will want to bring their books up on their high chair with them. Aww, how cute! They love reading so much! Sure, little friend, let's read while we eat! But wait — what does this mean for these poor little books? Scrambled eggs and shredded cheese will likely get squished among pages, pizza oil might damage make the covers greasy, and you’ll be wiping off crumbs from inside the spine for basically forever. It’s especially ~great~ when your kid doesn’t warn you about what landed in the pages and then closes it and leaves it somewhere until you find it coated in ants. Toddlers are fun, huh?
And Finally, The Worst: They Might Even Spit Up Or Puke On Them
I’m about 98% certain I opened up a baby board book from the library not long ago only to find wiped up puke stains toward the end of the story. It was a warning, for sure, to always check every page before even thinking of checking out a book. It looked and even smelled a little foul. But kids do things like that sometimes, and it makes you wonder why you get books for your kids in the first place.
OK, cool. Thanks for going on this horrifying adventure with me, guys. Raise your hand if you're never going to look at another kid’s bookshelf the same way again.