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And they labored with teeny tiny allen wrenches

And they labored with teeny tiny allen wrenches

September 4, 2006

Our day today in home improvement peaked when we assembled our IKEA furniture.

We accomplished most of the things on our list, including the original list before I began adding things just to cross them off, except for some plumbing that Rob didn’t get to do because the parts had to be ordered and a couple of other things I had written down for Rob to do because I am helpful like that.

I did accomplish everything on my list, however. Which mostly meant that I walked around the house with a paintbrush in my hand and a gallon of paint attached to me.

I did want to address the theft of the stuffed animal since some zealous people felt the need to email me about the error of my ways and how I am raising future thugs by condoning this behavior. ( As an aside I just typed thongs instead of thugs. But that seems even more appropriate since my children can often sometimes rarely be pains in the ass. Perhaps that will be my new thing to say to them when they are acting up. “Stop being such a thong!” I kid. Maybe.) Obviously they don’t read here much or they would know that I am raising future circus people.

Honestly, she showed me the dog and I agreed it was cute. And then, because I HAVE SO MANY CHILDREN I ignored her like I ALWAYS do and didn’t notice she put it into her backpack. She has no idea at 3 years old about stealing something. She knows she can just cry, scream and roll on the filthy floor (”For the love of God, get up off of the disgusting floor!”) and I will buy whatever it is. Because in addition to circus tendencies I am raising spoiled brats. And I am proud of it.

Driving back to the store to pay? If she were older and it was done on purpose, sure I’d consider doing that or having some other sort of consequence. But the store is over an hour and a half away. I’d probably make the person write a note of apology and mail it back.

Enough of this.

Because did you read where I wrote about my daughter, the thief, drinking from some water bottle that was left sitting there on the floor? Did that just make you throw up a little like it did me?

I am a germ freak. I hate my children even sitting on public furniture. Or the doors to get in and out of public places. Or basically anything that is not inside my own home. This is why my children have never been to Chuck E Cheese or an indoor playground. I feel nauseous just thinking about it. A few years ago one of our local news staions did a story on those public indoor playgrounds and tested various areas of the playscape. They found all sorts of bacteria and e-coli all over the place. You know what that means? Shit! Shit on the slides! Shit on those balls in the ball pit that all the babies like to mouth And really, I have to draw the line at my babies putting shit, other than their own, into their mouth. Call me crazy.

I had walked away to go buy a drink, leaving Rob in charge when it happened. And when I got back to the seating area and found out what had happened. Well, I freaked out. I am sure that the other people in the waiting area were talking about me on their way home. But, you know you would have reacted the same way.

“Can I just leave you in charge for a minute without you allowing our daughter to ingest some potentially lethal liquid. What if the person spit into the bottle? Or what if they were sick or dirty? or had some sort of contagious disease? I DON’T KNOW WHAT KIND OF DISEASE! Flesh eating bacteria, or strep, or herpes, genital warts on their face! Oh my God. The germs! I can’t believe she drank that germy water. I don’t know if I could kiss her again!”

And then my daughter said, “I LOVE germs!”

I think it was probably at this point that Rob told me to get a hold of myself.

And I found myself wishing that Yvonne was with me. Because she is such a calm and rational person in the face of calamity.

Yvonne kindly left the link to her 911 calling bee story in the comments. I thought I’d pull it out here: the BEES!! And yes I was being sarcastic about her calm nature.

Posted by Chris @ 11:30 pm  

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  1. Suebob says:

    People don’t usually understand that a big part of my being a vegetarian is my specific germ phobia. I am ok in public - door handles etc do not freak me out. But food…eeeh. I consider chicken and beef toxic waste. I never want them raw in my home.

    I read a quote about the average American home - the toilet has less germs in it than the kitchen sink. Why? People don’t rinse out chickens in the toilet. THAT is how gross raw chicken is. Urk. Give me my brussels sprouts, now.

  2. The Lazy Organizer says:

    Oh the germs!!! Can’t you just ignore them the way you ignore your children? I mean. That’s what I try to do!

  3. Thorny says:

    Oof. When the little sneakthief is older, then you can get on about doing some consequences and such. But really, at this age? What are you going to do?

    But don’t worry - I’ll be your daughter’s friend/mentor in jail; I’m sure I’ll be going too since I once accidentally shoplifted some Avent nipples from Target a while back. It was when my twins were infants, and they didn’t have any baskets available, so I wound up stowing all my items in the various bits of the stroller. And then I forgot a spot until I was out at the car trying to fold up the stroller and couldn’t figure out why the damn thing wouldn’t fold. After I’d gotten two 4-month-olds through Target and back into their car seats, no way in hell was I going back in. I had meant to go back at some later date and ‘fess (and pay) up, but… dude, 4-month-old twins! My brain was goo!

  4. Jennifer says:

    You so do NOT need to justify not turning the car around to go back to IKEA to pay for the stuffed animal. It was so obviously a mix-up and your older children were so clearly appalled at the inadvertent theft that it is obvious to non-circus people readers that you have instilled good, strong, non-thievery values in your children. Puhleeeeze.

    And the rest of the post had me doubled over laughing. Except for the part about the e.coli. Which yes, is very very very very gross. And makes me want to never touch anything ever again.

  5. peepnroosmom says:

    As a preschool teacher of 3 year olds I can safely say they are nasty little people. They pick their noses and don’t wipe good and sneeze and cough all over everything and eat each other’s food and eat food off of the floor. It’s a wonder they ever live to see 4. But they do and have wonderful little immune systems to show for it.
    I was laughing so hard at that post, though. I bet you freaked out.

  6. Kristie says:

    I once compared a day spent at an indoor McDonalds playland with “a playdate spent in Hell” … the person who had {so erroneously} invited us to McDonalds didn’t understand. You, I bet, do. :)

  7. Maddy says:

    My son, at age 2, during a visit to the airport, he picked up off the floor and ATE a McDonalds french fry …. it was not his french fry nor anyone I knew’s french fry. I will never forget the utter and total feeling of total disgust … I wanted to stick my fingers down his throat but alas it was done and the germs were in.

    I feel for you on all levels.

  8. zookeeper says:

    Germ phobic too. I won’t drink after people- even my own husband. And I gag if I catch my kids doing it, and then wonder why I was so woefully inept in raising them because obviously if they don’t get this I failed.

    I was totally impressed to witness a mom doing my routine in the ladies’ room at a restaurant the other day. She dispensed the paper towels for her daughter, using her elbow to push the lever of course, so her daughter wouldn’t have to touch the disgustingly germ laden thing after washing her hands. Then she grabbed an extra paper towel for herself to pull the bathroom door open with, so they wouldn’t have to then touch the likely just as disgusting door handle. I just smiled and nodded, because I have truly never seen anyone else do this but me! Although- I did see a woman leave the stall in Target, and walk right out without washing her hands. EWWWWW.

  9. blairzoo says:

    I think I can top most of these gross-out stories…My now beautiful and talented, adorable 15 year old daughter, almost had me committed to the funny farm by the time she was three. Let’s see, how about the time she pulled a half-eaten lollypop out of a full ash tray at the laundromat and ate it while I was loading the machines? (you better believe darling husband was ordered to fix our machine the next day). I was such a germ freak I was seriously trying to decide if putting just a small amount of lysol in her mouth would be OK…..Then there was the time we were vacationing with inlaws and she came out of the bathroom gagging and spitting on something. Well, there is almost nothing that can compare to being pregnant and realizing that your cute little toddler has a mouth full of someone else’s shit! Picture me gagging and barfing into the sink while I’m trying to clean out her mouth and having a total freak out about the fact that she ate poop. This is also the child that put a bottle of prenatal vitamins in her mouth, but so kindly spat them all back into the bottle when the delicious coating wore off. She also sprayed bug spray into HER MOUTH. Boy, it sure sounds like I was a neglectful mom….Heck, she was my 2nd child and I was still in hyper-alert supermom mode. Can’t imaging if my now 3 year old were anything like that. Anyway, here she is still alive and one of my healthiest kids, go figure. (and no, she never actually got sick after those incidents).

  10. MamaDuck says:

    Ick, I’d freak out too, I thought I was the only one who wouldn’t let my little guy into those indoor playplaces, ugh!

  11. madre-terra says:

    I think that you should sign that 3 yr. old for some gymnastic classes. Give the wee one a chance to hone their talents. They could grow up and be a very successful theif. I hear that when done right it is very lucrative. I also think that successful thievery takes brains. Two good qualities in a profession, don’t you think?
    Tell those folks who send you nasty email to lighten up!
    As for the germs…I am not a germ freak and I wouldn’t have been pleased to have my child drink from a bottle on the floor. I would have flipped too.

  12. Courtney says:

    I’m amazed that numerous people feel the need to e-mail and criticize moments in you life. Like you just thought it was okay that your daughter drank a random bottle of water. No, you have to come back and give a full explanation of how you really did freak out about it. Come on, people!
    Chris, you are a wonderful writer and mom. And people who feel the need to criticize you need get a life and just not read your blog.

  13. Novaks8 says:

    when are we (mothers) going to stop being so judgemental?

    Why do we feel the need to criticize fellow mothers?

    Does it make us feel superior?

    A 3 year old is not going to understand the concept of stealing and returning the bear.

    I have walked back into Target to pay for a bottle of shampoo that was hiding in the corner of the cart because my older kids were with me and I knew I should set that example.

    If I was 1.5 hours away? Uh, no.
    I may have paid for it the next time we went to the store.

    In the larger scheme of things, why does someone feel the need to even comment on what you “should have done”?

    Use that energy for something else like helping those in poverty so kids don’t have to die in a fire due to candles because they had no electricity!

    deep breath.

    And the germ thing?
    That is pretty funny.

    My oldest daughter was walking ahead of us once as we were leaving my grandmother’s home. She saw a Cheez-It cracker and picked it up and popped it in her mouth. (off the ground)
    Bad enough right?
    It was COVERED IN ANTS!!!

    I shrieked and opened her mouth but the cracker and ants were all gone.


    She will be 19 next month so apparently she survived.

  14. Wendy says:

    Since, we are all sharing the disgusting things our kids do, I will share mine. My daugther, now 4 yrs old, has a thing for public restroom trash cans. I am the weird woman in the bathroom screaming, “STOP! TOUCHING EVERYTHING! GET OUT OF THE TRASH!”. Her favorite is the little trash can that is might for used pads. God, kids are so gross.

    I am glad that these little carrier monkeys have such a great immune system, but what about the adults that come in contact with them.

    Wendy, who is sick and it is has only been a week of school. The most important thing is that I get to run after a very healthy 4 yr old and 7 mos old. Yippee for me!

  15. rachel says:

    I’m totally not a germaphobe, and I’ve let my kids play at Chuck E Cheese & McDonalds play areas (but they aren’t allowed to eat there, lol). But even I find the water bottle story icky. bleh.

    I love an earlier commenter’s idea on signing your daughter up for gymnastics. maybe ballet, too? Then she’d be light on her feet. Maybe she could steal dollar bills for you to burn for heat in the winter?

    My mind boggles at what people get all hot and bothered about. I guess that’s the trade off for having 1,018453 visitors, eh? ;)

  16. Maddy says:

    I totally would have freaked out also about the water. (And, I am right there with ya on the stuffed animal, btw).

    As far as germs, I try to remind myself that humans (esp kids ;) ) are animals. We can take a lot. Sure, we get sick from time to time. I have a friend who is totally germ phobic and goes thru bottles and bottles of that antibacterial gel with her kids. I don’t do that (though I am strict about hand washing, etc.). Her kids seem to catch more stuff than mine do. Now maybe they would be EVEN sicker without all the gel? Not sure…

  17. Susan says:

    Charlie once ate a cigarette butt. And then said, “Mmm, chewy.”

  18. ben says:

    I once suggested to somebody (as was suggested to me by the great Prophet Dave Barry) that when a child puts something disgusting in their mouth (say, a cigarette butt) you should immediately show something more disgusting to them so that they spit it out.

    The person thought I was being serious.

    And they allow me to have kids. (Really, they do, I have a license, not many people can say that, relatively speaking)

    I have no suggestions for the Toy Question, I think you did fine. I certainly wouldn’t have turned around nor made a big deal, but I would probably have pilfered the toy away so they couldn’t enjoy it. Then I would wrap it and give it to them on Christmas or something, cuz after all I’m a cheapskate.

  19. Erin says:

    My 3 year old had to take an hour long soak this morning after covering himself in his own *shit*. You said shit.
    I know he’s not the only 3 year old that’s had this problem.
    We used to take a class together at one of those indoor play gyms, until he peed on the equipment (including in the sandbox, I cringe) not once, but twice in the same day. Boy was my face red. But again, I’m sure he wasn’t the only one that forced the staff to reach for the haz-mat gear.
    And the bottle of water? Gag-puke-gag. It doesn’t take much with this morning sickness.

  20. Nicki says:

    Now I’m going to have problems with playgrounds everywhere!! Nasty, nasty. Might have to start carry lysol and hand sanitizer everywhere.

  21. Laundry Woman says:

    SO glad to hear I’m not the only Chuck E Cheese heretic!

  22. Susan says:

    Okay, #1. The people reading your blog who feel the need to e-mail you to give you parenting advice need to get a fucking life. Simple as that.

    #2. OMG, germs! Fortunately (FORTUNATELY??? OMG, I’ve really gone over the edge here), my 7 & 10yo kids are as OCD as I am when it comes to germs. My son once reported an employee at McDonald’s for not washing his hands, and both of my kids have mastered opening doors with their elbows.

    #3. Bees. OMG. I am normally the world’s most doting, protective, overly-involved mother. Until you put a bee in my presence (God forbid A SWARM of them). The most my kids will get out of me is shrieking over my shoulder, “OH MY GOD KIDS GET INSIDE THE HOUSE NOW!” as I go running PAST THEM to get MYSELF inside FIRST. That is how great my fear of bees is. (In other words, okay if one of those deadly creatures stings my children, but not if they get near me.) I can’t believe I’m admitting this. I’m as bad as George Costanza on Seinfeld, knocking over an elderly woman in a walker to get past her in the midst of a fire. Except I am a real person, not a sitcom character.

    #4. Therapy. Note to self.

  23. Susan says:

    BTW, to let you know what a germaphobe I am, I wrote to the makers of Lysol approximately 9.5 years ago (when my son was a baby) to give them the brilliant idea of a product I had: LYSOL WIPES. They promptly wrote back and said it would never sell.

    And I promptly lost the copy of the unopened, postmarked letter I’d sent to myself just so they couldn’t turn around and screw me over like that.

    I hate Lysol Wipes. However, since the idea was a good one, I do buy Clorox Wipes. ;)

  24. Caya says:

    I have heard that too many antiseptic products can actually lead up to the immune system not being challanged enough by various germs, and thereby becoming susceptible to nasty diseases when they come along. So a little dirt is good for you.

    Myself I’m not so much bothered at Chuck E. Cheese or McDonald’s Playland by the germs, as by the noise. However I have made it a practice to carry my little emergency kit in a tin box in my purse, with my little bandaids and acetemeniphin and sewing kit and stuff, including my indespensable EARPLUGS. Other people put a space blanket in their emergency kit- I put earplugs. They certainly save my sanity, I know that. Now my husband can’t stand the chaos at those places whatsoever, so he just refuses to go altogether.

  25. Cathy C says:

    One of my friends comes home from work after riding the SUBWAY and begins to make dinner. Without first washing her hands!!! I have seen her do it many times. She says germs are good for you, but I will only eat at her house if we get take out.

  26. JIll says:

    I find Ikea and indoor playgrounds equally awful. IKEA is less than two miles away from my house and I dread (yes dread) having to go there. It is like a big nightmare trying to maneuver my way through their maze. It gives me a headache….. and then they have this indoor playground for the kids. Yes, at our IKEA they will watch my daughters as I shop…. and I am also germ phobic and can only imagine the creepy, crawling things living in the IKEA day care. Yikes!

    With that said, I still shop at IKEA because it is cheap and I don’t care if I destroy what I buy…. and I still let the girls run around Chuck E Cheese because they like it and friends have birthday parties there. ICK!

  27. dorothy says:

    I was like you until Oz (the little angel’s old daycare) started giving her other babies’ pacis.


    But then I realized how little control I really have, and that immune systems do work.

    But I feel for you.

  28. Plain Jane Mom says:

    Apologize to no one! A 3 year old doesn’t understand ’stealing’ at all. Drive 90 minutes to make a point to a child who won’t get it? So silly.

    You crack me up! I do wonder, though, why you don’t have a problem with your kids putting their own shit in their mouths…

  29. diana mcdonough says:

    to the people out there who were giving you crap about the stuffed animal all i have to say is get over it!! at least you managed to get your kids home. i am the oldest of 7 and know how hard it is to keep track of what kids (any kids) do i public places.

  30. wookie says:

    Immune systems rock.

    I am fortunate not to be a germophobe, then I married someone who had a microbiology degree. Let’s just say our sink and counters and cutting boards get sterlized every day, and that our water is hot enough to flay the skin from your bones.

    And yet, he eats sushi. Go figure.

  31. Suburban Turmoil says:

    I can top you. My daughter tried to eat a Goldfish off my gynocologist’s floor. AIIIIEEEE! The worst part is, my gynocologist noticed it and screamed before she got it in her mouth. I was totally oblivious.

  32. Gillian says:

    I clearly remember being three and suddenly realizing where suckers came from. I left my yard, crossed a major highway and went in to ask for my sucker. I was given one. Then they asked me for my penny. I had no idea what they were talking about. I didn’t know about paying and I had no idea what a penny was. Three whole fingers is not very many old. Although, I refuse to compare what I have learned in the last three years to what your darling girl has mastered. Hug her for me. My Mom was a little freaked about the whole leaving the yard and highway thing. Being Mama is not always the fun part.

  33. del4yo says:

    My girlfriends and I have a word for those mums who criticize every thing and every tiny almost mistake you make : “perfect mum” (it’s an insult. We are not very good at insults)

    And we hate them, how much we hate them, until we realised that they raise perfectly unhappy children. Voila!

    I really liked the way you handled the Ikea situation, I wish I’ll be that clever if necessary…

  34. Mama T. says:

    We too drove a flat box from IKEA home from Chicago yesterday. It’s waiting to be assembled.

    Oh and the germs, yeah the water story got me all icky. My 13 month old has already tried to put icky germy crap in her mouth. But what gets me is the 9 year old, who should know better (you’d think,) but was picking up random squished coins and discarded things at the Metra train station on Friday.

  35. mothergoosemouse says:

    Germs and other yuckies were a large part of my undergraduate studies - microbiology, parasitology, immunology. It was awfully creepy for a long time, but I got used to it. Parasitology was especially gross.

    That said, because of my studies, I’m a clean freak. Especially in the kitchen.

  36. Joy H says:

    So do ya want to hear the story about the time my darling 21mo. daughter in her brand new pink outfit got PUKED ON in a Burger King play structure????

    OR how about my almost 5yo girlie’s recent NASTY, ICKY, BLECH habit of snagging some ABC gum. (that’s code for already been chewed). GAG!

  37. T in HD says:

    That post made me sick. Gotta stop reading at breakfast time. Eeww. I guess I qualify as a germaphobe too, judging by your standards. My father and husband both promised the kids to take them to Chucky E. Cheese while were visiting the US. It was too gross for me to contemplate going with. And I refused to let the toddler go. She stayed home with me in happy ignorance. And dad and dh got a long list of rules. And I don’t want to know if they were followed! I’m so glad we don’t have Chucky E. Cheese here.

    Thongs. OMG. I’ve adopted “pita pocket” already for the little one but “thong” is just too funny. Gotta use it.

  38. InterstellarLass says:

    I’m sure you had a nice, long talk with your three year old and explained to her how stealing is wrong, both morally and legally, and that if everyone stole, business would close down, the economy would collapse, and we’d all end up wearing animal skins and eating raw meat. And there would be germs. And she understood all this and now she will never shop lift again. And if you didn’t, well, you’re just raising the next Winona Ryder.

  39. Jen says:

    For some reason I read this as “tiny ALIEN wrenches”. That was a funny mental picture…

  40. Katherine says:

    My 16mo daughter was cruising the table at our kindergarten tea party yesterday, knocking back the other kids’ leftover apple juice. Will it freak everyone else out if I say that it really doesn’t bother me? From a germ perspective, anyway. The social etiquette leaves a lot to be desired. Still, at least your 3 year old was drinking from a human water bottle. My 3 year old was discovered swigging from the guinea pig’s feeder. Still, they’re the healthiest kids I know, their immune systems have obviously developed extra hardiness to cope with all the yick.
    As for bees, we had our own bee incident here: http://piksi.typepad.com/piksi/2006/08/a_sting_in_the_.html
    Although I have to admit it was a bee. Not bees. And I didn’t even get to see it.

  41. Jessie says:


    Your post is very informative….