What To Do When Our Grandchildren’s Germs Leave Us With Choices That Our Doctor Advises Against

girlI just left my dentist’s office after looking at the video screen gross slide of all of the various kinds of living and moving micro organisms in my mouth and having him remind me that there are 80 million bacteria in my mouth alone, much less the rest of my body. He proceeded to tell me that babies are not born with strep but their parents give it to them via kisses.  He told me that a 10 second kiss can transfer those 80 million bacteria from on mouth to another, and told me of a study in the Journal Microbiome that researchers found that much of the bacteria couples share in their mouths come from sharing meals and other behavior, such as kissing.   He reminded me that as new mothers, we cleansed our baby’s pacifier that falls to the ground (another 10 second rule) by putting it in our mouths and then putting it back in the baby’s mouth.  I reminded him that it was never with our first child, for whom we would boil everything to death, but always with our second child.   His response: voilà, we have just given our baby strep.

He said, similarly, a parent sharing a bite of a new food or an ice cream cone with a baby or toddler gives that baby or toddler 80 million bacteria each time.  We can always argue that we were just building up their immunity when we were parents.  They survived our germs. . . .and us.

Fast forward to being a grandparent and it seems that there is medical proof that the grandchildren’s germs are more toxic to us grandparents than ours to them. A dear friend just came back from visiting her grandchildren and ended up with a cold again. It seems that every time we visit our grandchildren or they visit us, we end up with something evil that lays us up for days.  This last “cold” I acquired from our youngest grandchildren lasted nearly a month for me.

After a visit to her young grandchildren, my dear grandma friend was so sick she went to the doctor.  Her doctor advised her that this was going to happen every time unless she changed many of her behaviors with her grandchildren. He gave her loads of advice to avoid getting sick after visiting with grandchildren, especially the younger grandchildren.  Please excuse the pun, but the advice was very hard to swallow.

First, he said do not kiss the grandchildren on the mouth and exchange germs. As a grandmother of babies, I loved those sloppy wet drooling open mouthed baby kisses all over my face and in my mouth. I never thought that I was also giving the baby my germs, but, again, this Grandma argues that’s good for their immunity. If they get strep, it has to be from a parent! The doctor said our immunity, as we are at a different stage in life (we never say older), is not good enough to stave off every germ we get from our grandchildren.  He said the obvious, that we are not as young as we were when we were parents. We can’t fight off a lot of what they give us and all of their new micro organisms, bacteria, and diseases are foreign our bodies, according to my dear grandma friend’s doctor.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t follow the doctor’s orders with regard to kisses. There comes a time when kisses are hard to get from grandchildren.  There is a time when only “dry” kisses are acceptable to our grandchildren or we can only kiss their heads. We need to take advantage of those sloppy wet slobbering baby kisses when they are freely given because there will be a time where we have to fight for every single kiss. My dear grandma friend, through coughing fits and sneezes, fully agreed.

Next, my dear grandma friend’s doctor said wash your hand hands constantly when playing with the grandchildren. That is easier said than done if you are a hands-on grandma. Yes, we probably should stop and do the ABC song and hand wash together to keep our germs apart. However, if you are a hands-on grandma, it is impossible to avoid exchanging germs with grandchildren.  I will grab their hands and their bodies as much as I can for hugs or just holding hands.  We will be playing card games or board games or holding a book together.  I know I could be more compulsive but the love stars in my eyes when I am with my grandchildren makes me forget practicality.  My dear grandma friend, through coughing fits and sneezes, fully agreed.

Next, my dear grandma friend’s doctor said not to share food with grandchildren or finish the grandchildren’s food to avoid getting those 80 million germs each time. This is one of the hardest things that for me. I tend to gain weight every time I am with my grandchildren. My mouth is closer than the garbage can and I tend to want to easily get rid of their leftover food on the plate and my mouth is where it goes. I don’t think about the fact that their food is laden with their germs and their germs are going to cause me harm. All I’m thinking of is the harm of the weight I’m going to gain, not the cold I am going to suffer.  Leftover mac and cheese or ice cream is hard to dump in the trash.  I always must diet when I come home.  I have even been known to say that the illness I gain after a visit makes me lose my appetite and lose the pounds I have gained so how bad is that.  My dear grandma friend, through coughing fits and sneezes, fully agreed.

Finally, my dear grandma friend’s doctor said never allow the grandchildren to play with grandma’s I phone or I pad, or use the remote control.  The problem for me with the remote control is that our six year old grandchild can successfully use it while I cannot turn on the television.  He told her about a study that the grandchildren will deposit more germs on the I pad and I phone than you would find in a subway toilet and viruses stay viable on their surfaces.  I went on the internet and found the Journal of Applied Microbiology study through PBSKids Blog.  Both the PBS Kids Blog long list of germs one can get from children and the Journal index of germs made me nauseous.  But, not nauseous enough to think about saying no to a grandchild when the grandchild wants to use my I phone or I pad or turn on the television with our remote control.    My dear grandma friend, through coughing fits and sneezes, fully agreed.

So, now I know I have to disinfect my I phone and I pad and have no idea how to do so without damaging it.  See Apple’s website or the PBS Kids Blog which say similar things.  Bottom line and take-away: we are just cleaning, not disinfecting. Here is a combination of both sets of advice:

“Unplug all external power sources, devices, and cables.

Turn off the I pad.

Use only a soft, lint-free cloth. Avoid abrasive cloths, towels, paper towels, and similar items that might cause damage. Do not use disinfectant wipes or disinfectant sprays.

Keep liquids away from the product. Don’t get moisture into any openings.

Don’t use aerosol sprays, solvents, or abrasives. Don’t use window cleaners, household cleaners, aerosol sprays, solvents, alcohol, ammonia, or abrasives to clean iPad.

Don’t spray cleaners directly onto the item.”

“The iPad screen has an oleophobic coating; simply wipe the screen with a soft, lint-free cloth to remove oil left by your hands. The ability of this coating to repel oil will diminish over time with normal usage, and rubbing the screen with an abrasive material will further diminish its effect and may scratch your screen.”

Okay, I understand why my dear grandma friend’s doctor used the “never” word.  But, this Grandma’s mantra is never say no–especially to a grandchild.  Say maybe or I’ll think about it, distract, do a dance, anything but the “no” word.

When our grandchildren’s germs leave us with choices that our doctor advises against, I take their best advice . . . for how to deal with the illnesses after a wonderful grandchildren visit. . .

I go to the store and buy Emergen-C, Cold Ease, Flonaise, Mucinex D, and sometimes end up with antibiotics and prescription cough medicine. . . .and lose the weight I gained with






Speak Your Mind