Saturday, May 9, 2015

Can My Kid Still Eat That?

Parenting is hard. There’s no way around it. For those of who are cursed fortunate enough to be parents, we are all too aware that over the course of our parenting life, major decisions will have to be made, ones that will shape our beloved children’s future in countless ways. It never seems to end. Where do you send them for school? When do you cave and get them a phone? (After all, everyone else in pre-school has one.) Do you really sign them up for a soccer team that holds more practices than the teams in the World Cup? These are major, life-altering decisions that keep us parents up at night.

But parenting is not made up of only major decisions. Far from it. Each day brings countless tiny decisions, insignificant on the surface but if handled incorrectly, ones with the potential to do lasting damage. As a parent, the pressure is always on—don’t screw it up!

But one of those seemingly tiny decisions with potentially life-altering consequences is seldom discussed by the Dr. Phil’s of the world, and you don’t see on self-help parenting websites. We're out there, all alone, which is a shame because it is a big one. Very big. Lives and futures are at stake, and we have to get it right. What is it, you may ask? Simple. 

What do you do when your child drops a piece of food on the ground
See? This is big. This is iceberg-that-sunk-the-Titanic BIG.
Titanic-level danger looms...

If you think I am overstating the importance, think again. I have seen vacations, family gatherings, and pleasant days destroyed in mere seconds by a parent making the wrong decision to this problem. I can see it now. Birds are singing, the sun is shining, and kids are laughing. But wait, what's that? Junior dropped his sucker.

The pressure is on now. What do you do? Do you throw it away and risk upsetting the little tyke, sending him or her off on a temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums? Or do you pick it up, brush off any debris, and return the sucker, letting the rest of your day go smoothly while risking your child’s very health all so that you can have a nice time.
Was going to post a shirtless MJ pic from the video, but I just couldn't do it.

It’s a dilemma, friends, but do not fret. In the famous words of Michael Jackson, you are not alone, I am here for you. I have looked at the man in the mirror and now I am going to make the world a better place by putting together a guide, titled simply:

For teens and adults, the answer to the question “I dropped something—can I still eat it?” comes down to the 5-second rule. For those unfamiliar, it goes like this: if something has fallen on the floor and you pick it up within 5 seconds, eat it. Totally safe. But stretch past that five seconds and you’ve taken the highway to the danger zone. Throw it away, and don’t think twice.

But when it comes to are kids, nuance is required. And that is where I come in. Before we get started, one point: this guide, while striving to be comprehensive, recognizes that in no way can it cover every scenario. You know your child better than I ever could, and so there are times you will have to use your best judgment. I’ve covered what I can, but this is only a guide, not a bible. Sorry about that. Use it as best you can for your scenario, and best of luck to you. 

So here we go. Every effort has been made to reduce each scenario to a yes, they can eat it or no, they cannot eat it answer. Simple as that, but again, nuance. Lots and lots of nuance. Without further ado: 

My kid was eating something and they dropped it on the ground. Can he/she eat it?
Well, that depends.
The floor was dry/hard/solid/tile/wood.
Most likely, yes.
It landed in mud/snow/a river/a lake/an ocean.
But it was clean snow.
Clean snow? That’s like landing in a tray of ice cubes. Answer is yes.
But it was clean mud.
Clean mud? That seems impossible but you’re sounding kind of desperate, so yes.
It was a clean river or lake.
Gotta say no on this one. Sorry. All sorts of nasty stuff lurks in river and lake water. Best of luck to you.
It was a mountain stream, at the source, at the very top of the Rocky Mountains.
You brought a kid all the way to the top of a mountain? Answer is clearly yes.
It fell in the dog dish.
It didn’t get any dog food crumbs on it or anything.
Tough one, but I’d say yes.
It’s sticky.
Sticky is bad. No.
I can pull the hair sticking to it free.
Is there a reasonable chance that the offending hair belongs to a member or members of your family? If yes, then yes.
It was at the barber shop/salon.
Dear God, no.
They dropped their ice cream.
No. Throw it away.
What if I scrape off the top layer?
Hmm, that actually might work. Yes.
It took me forever to cook it.
They dropped it on the sidewalk.
It’s the third one they’ve dropped on the sidewalk today.
I can wash it.
You can wash it? Why are we even having this conversation? If you can wash it off, the answer’s always yes.
It was a sucker/piece of candy, and my kid is really freaking out.
Can you buy another one? If no, the answer is yes.
I wanted to finish whatever my kid didn’t eat.
Then yes! You’re in it together now.
It landed in grass.
Inspect it. If it looks clean, answer is yes.
I would have to wait in a long line to get another one.
See above scenarios, but answer is most likely yes.
It was really expensive.
See above scenarios, but answer is most likely yes.
My kid won’t eat anything else.
They dropped it in the bathroom.
No. For God’s sake, no!
They dropped it in a Port-A-Potty.
You are very clearly failing as a parent on many levels. No.
It fell in the dirt.
God made dirt, dirt don’t hurt, put it in your mouth and let it squirt! Not what you’re looking for? Well, see above. But most likely, yes.
It landed butter side up.
Too easy. Answer is yes!
It landed butter side down.
Too easy. Answer is no!
My kid is really freaking out here!!!
Hey, do what you gotta do. Answer is yes.

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