(iStockPhoto/Ben_Gingell)

The calendar may say “spring,” but it still feels like winter for one group of people in particular: parents. Their kids have runny noses, high fevers, ear infections, the flu, and Strep throat, and while most parents understand the nature of contagious illnesses (and the way they spread among young kids), many parents have something to say to the public at large: Stop contributing to making our kids sick, you assholes!

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This screenshot came to me edited, which is why you can’t read Diana’s unedited freakout (as I would have left it), but you get the idea. Diana is sick and EFFING tired of people who are sick coming ’round her kids. No matter that some people don’t even HAVE sick days to use at work (I know I didn’t at my last desk job), and forget about the fact that most adults who are around children and/or have kids of their own usually contract any illnesses from them; the fact is, if you have a lingering cough and you see Diana or her children, walk in the other direction.

Don’t breathe their way or approach them for any reason, because Diana’s daughter’s crusty eyes don’t need your sick germs, THANKS. However, if for some reason you must approach Diana or her children, it’s advisable that you take one little thing into consideration that parents have been crowing about for years: Do not, under any circumstances, touch the child whom you are standing near. Do not tousle hair. Do not offer a high-five. Do not hold a baby and sneeze on said baby “just for laughs” like the monsters you are. If you do, there will be hell to pay.

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Okay, let’s get real. Everyone is carrying germs like…all the time. Our bodies are covered in creepy crawly germs and that’s the unfortunate side effect of being a living mass of cells. Secondly, I do think some people might not always use their brains and will occasionally put themselves in a room with a baby, despite being sick. Those people should stop doing that. (PRO-TIP: If you’ve ever made plans to meet someone’s baby and you really want to cancel, just tell the parents that you’re sick! They’ll go from saying, “We’re SO excited that you’re meeting Tambourine today,” to saying, “Omg THANK YOU for telling us you’re sick, you’re such a saint. Feel better!” before you can even fake sneeze into the phone.) I have personally canceled plans to meet a baby or two because I suddenly recognized that babies don’t need to be around my watering eyes and dripping snot, so I understand parents’ concerns. It happens. That being said, any baby who has young siblings will likely be exposed to a plethora of nasty germs anyway, so let’s not go blaming adults who are sick for everything, hmm?

The point is, parents are often frustrated by the ways in which people interact with their babies. Some folks aren’t baby people at all, and they fall into an even more despised category. They’re the ones who don’t smile, wave, or play patty cake with babies who “want to engage and are learning to socialize,” and parents haaaaaaate them with a passion, as we already know. But swing the pendulum in the other direction, and you’ll discover that there truly is no such thing as a parenting sweet spot. Some parents want their babies to be held and passed around by friends and family from a very young age, and they don’t mind if a senior citizen standing behind them at the checkout line wants to pinch those wittle cheeks. Other parents are ready to call the police if a stranger so much as pats a child on the head, because how dare they?!? It’s a fine line, and the reason is that parents would rather be paranoid and blame “random adults” for spreading germs, because they don’t know where they’ve been or what they’ve just touched. Ugh, so gross! Those people could wash their hair with toilet water, for all parents know, IF they even shower regularly! (Meanwhile, parents are the ones spending time in germ factories like “Chuck E. Cheese” and the McDonald’s PlayPlace.)

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All of the germ fears are understandable to an extent. People do carry diseases! It’s better to assume that a person who wants to touch your baby is secretly covered in legions and open sores than to assume they’re healthy, wash their hands, and brush their teeth like most people, right? Who ARE these people going around cooing at babies and tickling their tummies and thinking they can get away with it? Do they not realize that parents are on to them and their sick master plans to contaminate the world?

Except…here’s the thing. For every submission I receive that reads like the above, which paints strangers who come into contact with babies as over-confident weirdos who are possibly exposing children to dangerous bacteria and disease, I receive two other submissions that read like this:

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‘Poop Hands’ is its own folder in my STFU, Parents submissions file, because parents can’t help but remind their friends on a seemingly thrice daily basis that when you have kids, some part of you is always covered in human waste. The same parents who lose their minds when an adult stranger gives their toddler a fist bump at the zoo are frequently handling bacteria-infested feces, yet they refuse to acknowledge this bizarre double standard. I’d like to propose something, though: Maybe it’s not just “random strangers” who are covered in potentially harmful germs — maybe it’s the poop-snot-and-vomit covered parents who are — perhaps — the germiest adults of all.

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OF COURSE parents are consistently dealing with bodily fluids. They’re caretakers of small children who are capable of projectile vomiting or pooping straight across a banquet hall, and *someone’s* got to clean that shit up. Someone has to wipe children’s noses and butts several times a day, and oftentimes, that someone is a parent. So why do so many parents think THEY’RE the cleanest people in the grocery aisle? Sure, I’d like to believe parents would be extra-cautious about cleaning fluids off their bodies and changing their clothing, because they know firsthand how important it is to provide a sanitized environment for their kids. But parents are also harried and on-the-go, and they’re not shy about making claims such as this one when seeking camaraderie from their peers on social media:

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“You know you’re a parent when” is a common expression for a reason, and most of the time it applies to something involving poop, barf, or snot. “You know you’re a parent when you have to fish your kid’s floaters out of the bathtub.” “You know you’re a parent when you wipe your kid’s nose with your bare hand.” “You know you’re a parent when you’re standing at the counter at Jiffy Lube and your entire arm is COVERED in poop.” These parenting anecdotes may be funny and relatable to the parents who read and post them, but they run counter to every single thing parents have ever said about strangers or “potentially” sick friends and family members touching, breathing near, or coming into close contact with their precious angels who would NEVER go digging around in their dirty diapers or eat their own poop or pick up used condoms off the ground. And frankly, after witnessing yet another cold and flu season go by (though we’re still at the tail end of it, according to my Facebook feed), I think it’s time to remind parents who the real germ agents in society are — them and their kids, no matter how many times they wash their hands and/or obsessively break out the hand sanitizer.

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Let’s check out some more examples.

1. Poop Hands

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Humans naturally enjoy catching things in our hands. Our youth is a just a series of “catches,” playing sports and tossing beach balls and mastering our overhands and underhands. That might be why it’s so funny to parents when they manage to catch their kid’s poop in their hands. It’s kind of like playing the game show “Name That Tune,” except instead of guessing a song first, parents are trying to catch their kid’s shit before it touches the furniture. Or, in some cases, the toilet bowl.

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I’m not so sure this is “ROTFLM” material, Cassie. In fact, I’m guessing if you polled your Facebook friends, they’d be like, “I didn’t ‘laugh my ass off’ so much as scroll by as quickly as possible, grateful that I wasn’t holding a crying child as he crapped ‘little turds’ into my hand.” People really should learn how to reserve those “BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAs” for more amusing occasions.

 

2. Poop Face

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“Pooped right on my face” sounds like something a poop fetishist would write in a live journal after a recent illicit encounter, so I’m definitely not feeling the description here. Granted, I think most parents have experienced ye olde “diarrhea facial,” but thankfully, the majority of them don’t post about it online after it happens. They just take a hot shower to wash off the horror and indignity and then they try to never think about it ever again. Not Lindsey, though. She was like, “As soon as I wipe this poop off my face, I’m telling the world.” How parents can have their faces pooped on but be more concerned about their friends coming by with the sniffles is sort of beyond me. Can’t we all just admit we’re walking garbage dumps?

3. Poopy Diaper Vote  

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This submission is from 2011, but as far as I’m concerned, Kaitlyn still has poop smeared on her back. No number of baths, dips in the pool, or swims in the ocean can remove the shit smear that once was. Isn’t it funny, er, “funny” the way some parents think their friends want a glimpse into their wacky poopy diaper fights? The foul yet hilariously relatable antics of young parents? I don’t think I know a single person who would honestly want to hear about a poopy diaper fight that I “lovingly” participated in with my husband, nor do I think audiences want to see Julia Roberts engaging in a poopy diaper fight with George Clooney in a romcom. A few other things no one *actually* wants to know, despite parents’ relentless urges to share:

  • If a breastfeeding mom had squirted her husband with her boob.

  • If recent parents have consumed breast milk in their coffee. (“It tastes sweet! Haha!”)

  • That the umbilical cord stump finally fell off and the dog ate it.

  • Whether the placenta was thrown away, buried in the yard, pulverized into dry capsules, or cooked into a lasagna — no one cares

  • If vomit has trickled into a mom’s cleavage. Please don’t.

  • That a baby has pooped on your face.

 

4. Dookie Snags 

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This is a good example what I’m talking about in this column. If parents are so concerned about strangers touching their children — which makes sense, but wrongly assumes that most people are filthy, unkempt, and have raging herpes infections — then they might not want to be so overt about picking up loose turds off the floor of Dillard’s. Not that I wouldn’t eat off the floor of Dillard’s — if paid enough money, I might consider it — but c’mon, a retail store floor + shit-in-hand combo? The twofer? That’s GROSS. Maybe parents should keep small baggies on-hand for incidents like this the way dog owners have to when they walk their dogs. If your kid is still young enough to *maybe* shit his pants, you don’t want to have to resort to picking up his steaming hot piece of poop off the floor at a motherfucking Dillard’s, do you? I also love that Ty somehow distinguishes Dillard’s from Kohl’s in this scenario. It would be interesting to see his ranking of least embarrassing to most embarrassing department stores in which parents wouldn’t want to handle a log of shit that had just tumbled out of their kid’s pant leg. Parents don’t want that kind of thing to happen at a Macy’s, but at a Walmart…? Highly “dooable.”

5. “Mountain Dew”

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Who wants to take a spin in Jennifer’s piss-mobile? It’s got all your urine needs: empty bottles, faint pee smells, pee stains just above your head. Her kid is chock full of book smarts, but like most males, turns into a complete moron once his penis is in his hand so he accidentally sprayed pee everywhere in the car. Whoops! This leads me to my next important point: The interiors of parents’ cars are as disgusting as grocery store shopping cart seats, and that’s why it is ideal to avoid both. Clorox wipes are great and all, but I’d rather just ride in a car that hasn’t been doused in secretions.

6. Mom’s Gold Star

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Thank you, Raquel and Corey, for effectively demonstrating that if you’re going to post about your poop hands, you should have a sense of humor about it. Parents shouldn’t feel like they can NEVER talk about the brown, stinky realities of their day-to-day, but it’s a good idea to consider whether what’s being said has any entertainment value. It’s not as easy as tacking on a “BWAHAHAHA rotflm,” and it’s certainly not going to go over well if the post put up before it was a rant about “sick people in public spaces” or strangers “touching” their baby. Plus, something tells me that once a parent rants about those things on social media, his or her chances of being shat upon or having to pick up a fresh turd off the floor in a Dillard’s increase exponentially.

Parents, make your choices wisely, and please wash your hands before typing, KTHX.