Yesterday was Bridget’s 3rd birthday. She spent the daylight hours indulging in cookies, cat-stalking and sunshine in the kind of present-moment-savoring paradise that most adults wish they still had the freedom to enjoy.
She was playing on the porch swing when her big sister Brontë put one of Douglas’s dog toys in her mouth, barking and crawling around on the ground.
Oh gross, I chuckled. Brontë, put the dog toy down!
She did. We later went inside to start the birthday celebrations, the girls forgetting all about the dog toy incident… until a startling discovery the very next morning:
A photo of Brontë with a dog toy in her mouth splashed across the front page of the The Sacramento Bee today, visible from every newspaper stand in town.
I’ll admit to being a little bit mortified.
And it’s not that I don’t believe most little kids have had far worse in their mouths at some point (kids chew on everything); it’s that random snapshots of our lives can create unbalanced impressions. I didn’t want people thinking I routinely let my kids chew on dog toys that have been sitting outside in the dirt because that’s not usually how we spend our time.
This idea didn’t bother Brontë at all, however. She was too busy being thrilled by her joke making the local news. She grabbed a paper and spent the next couple of hours running up to strangers to point out her featured photo. “It’s SO FUNNY,” she kept telling them. “They put it IN THE PAPER!”
Now, you may be wondering how this all came about…
Months ago, I wrote a blog post called Americans Are Too Damn Clean, inspired by parents who get rid of pets during pregnancies or use hand sanitizer before handling infants from what I consider to be good intentions gone awry, encouraged by our national tendency toward germ paranoia.
In it, I bring up scientific studies showing how kids who grow up around pets actually have fewer allergies, lower rates of asthma and eczema, and better gut ecosystems. No need to get rid of your pets.
Apparently, the Health Reporter for The Sacramento Bee came across my article and was intrigued. She called me for an interview and to set up an appointment to take photos of my girls being natural kids in a laid-back environment around a mom who would let them get dirty.
And Brontë, being the natural performer that she is, supplied the piece de resistance by chewing on a dog toy for the cameras, which ended up being a teaser on the front page. Oh, and she also grabbed the camera from the cameraman when he wasn’t looking and snapped some photos of me. Luckily, he was a really nice guy who has twin 8-year-old girls of his own, so he completely understood.
Fortunately, the article didn’t portray me as a filthy lunatic, just a mom who wasn’t convinced that disinfecting everything was the best idea. It was on the first page of the section section and the online version is here: Are Your Kids Too Clean? Microbiome Research Reveals Dangers of Killing Germs.
The only real bummer is how the reporter promised to mention Bubbles and Beebots in the article, which would’ve been great press in a nationally-known newspaper… especially since I live just outside of Sacramento, talk about the area from time to time, and since some of the studies mentioned in the article came straight out of my blog post. There’s a link included on the online version, yet the actual newspaper only referred to me as a parenting blogger.
Dang. Well, maybe the editor cut it. You never know.
At any rate, I think it’s pretty cool that Bridget’s birthday will be forever remembered as the day before she appeared in the local paper. She seems to think it’s pretty cool too.