Is there some snow on the ground by you? If so, do yourself a favor and go eat a handful. Have your kid eat some, too.
Then wait to see if you die. If you don’t — and you won’t — you will be joyously liberated from the latest WATCH OUT YOUR KID COULD DIE FROM DOING A NORMAL KID THING warning, this one about germs in snow.
Yes, news flash: Snow has germs. So does everything else. In snow’s case, researchers recently determined that sometimes the flakes form around a kind of bacteria that has been known to cause diseases in bean and tomato plants. If your child is a bean or tomato plant, steer clear.
But even though most of us do not have plant children, the story immediately launched into the sound bite stratosphere. “WHITE STUFF IS FULL OF BACTERIA,” yelled one headline. “SNOW EATING NOW ENDANGERED KID PLEASURE” “STUDY WARNS AGAINST SNOW” — which, by the way, the study explicitly did not. Rattled and ever-ready to step up their vigilance, many moms went straight into panic mode (which they consider straight into responsibility mode).
“We had a conversation about it already with our seven-year-old — that there’s lots of germs and bacteria and snow can make you sick,” said a mom named Whitney.
The lady next to her looked stricken. “We had our dog out on Sunday and I was like, ‘I don’t think she should be eating that snow,’” she said.
Look: Dogs eat snow. Seven-year-olds eat snow. And unless the seven-year-old is eating the snow that that dog got to first, everyone is going to get through this thing alive. They always have. Whereas if you start worrying about every little germ in the world, you are going to end up either placing your kid in a bubble or pickling his food in Purell.
Some mothers seem at that point already, if the women at the Executive Moms luncheon I attended on Wednesday represented a normal cross section. (Maybe they didn’t. They were mostly New York moms with high powered jobs.)
“I just heard you should never have a cut-up lemon in a restaurant because of the touching of it in the kitchen,” said Robin, the mother of a 5-year-old boy. So even though she used to love ordering a Diet Coke and sharing the lemon with her son, “That’s off the list. There’s too much potential to get sick.”
“I personally don’t let my children eat ice on planes because I read about bacteria,” said another mom, Karen.
And then there was another one, Renee, who won’t let her son drink New York tap water — the same water that does not seem to be resulting in mass deaths among the other 8 million people here. “I drink this new Norwegian water from glaciers,” she said. And that’s what she gives her teen.
Since when do we need water shipped from glaciers 5,000 miles away to be healthy? And shouldn’t we be more worried about the glaciers themselves than about a few germs?
A whole lot of today’s moms seem to pride themselves on scanning the horizon for each new speck of threat and then blasting it with a howitzer. No snow, no lemons, no ice, no water from the hose. What’s left?
I’m not sure. But I know it isn’t childhood.