Indoor waterparks are like heaven on earth for most kids, especially during the long winter months. My husband and I just took our little ones to such a park and they had the time of their lives. But as I watched them run from the slides to the arcade to the myriad of other child-friendly activities, I kept thinking the same thought. No, it wasn’t how great it is to be a kid. Nor was it the awful things I’d like to do to the person who invented the claw machine in the game room (where I picked up and dropped an Elsa doll 16 times as my daughter wailed). My one inescapable thought during my 2 night stay was this: Bacteria! Everywhere I looked there seemed to be germs. And it made me wonder, is there really any way to keep our kids safe from all that muck?
I’m not the type of mom who gets bent out of shape over germs. I’m a staunch believer in the 5-second-rule for fallen food and I never had a Purell bottle strapped to my stroller handlebar. But I am generally mindful of cleanliness and certainly a fan of hygiene. But with all those kids and all that moisture, there’s just no way to avoid germs at a place like that.
Sure, there are precautions you can take. At the pool, I made my kids wear flip flops and warned them to keep their mouths closed under water. But when the corner of one eye spots all the wading diaper-clad toddlers and the corner of your other eye watches your 6-year-old make a water fountain from his mouth, your body seizes up in a state of hopeless terror. And when management clears out the pool because of an “incident”, well, you just want to run. At least the bottom of their feet were protected.
No one is safe in the arcade either, where hundreds of sticky little fingers touch the same balls and buttons all day. You can chase your child around with sanitizers and attempt to wet wipe the controls, but if you’ve got 2 or more kids to watch, you’ll inevitably miss something. And before you know it, one of those dirty little hands will be shoving a fistful of complimentary popcorn in his mouth quicker than you can yell “microbe!”
Even the breakfast buffet scares me. With hordes of hungry hotel guests hovering over the open tins of food, it just seems like a stomach virus waiting to happen. But after waiting in line for an hour, try telling your child he can’t have sausage because a kid sneezed near the breakfast meats.
Fortunately for most kids, the thought of germs won’t keep us parents from these indoor meccas of fun. We know the excitement and pleasure our children get from these trips. We also know the germs are there, but we try not think about it.
For me, I simply resolved to loosen my relatively rigorous standards for a few days while reminding myself that the vast majority of kids come home healthy. And I kept in mind something my mother always said:
God and germs are everywhere… So wash your hands and pray for the best.