Do Your Kids Play in the Dirt?

Do Your Kids Play in the Dirt?

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Everywhere you go these days, someone is complaining about their allergies to one thing or another. For some, its dust, others mold, others trees and grass, and others pollen. We spend millions, probably billions on prescription drugs, over the counter stuff and various home remedies just to keep out noses clean and to survive different times of the year.

I can’t recall a single person in my life when I was a kid who complained about this stuff. Sure, we had colds or the flu, but those were temporary issues and they didn’t come around each and every year like clockwork. We just accepted them in the normal course of events and went on with life. Our television commercials (what little we had) might have had an advertisement for aspirin, but not what we have today.

By the time the news is over each evening and I have been subjected to about twenty five medical commercials I have more than enough to say grace for before we eat dinner.

Sometime ago I was at a birthday party for our granddaughter and I got into a discussion with one of the young mothers who attended. She had been telling me all of these terrible stories about the troubles her daughter was having with allergies and such. She was spending a fortune on doctors, pills, nose sprays and other medications. I asked her if she ever let her daughter go outside and play in the dirt without any shoes on. She looked at me as if I had lost my mind and soon drifted over to the dessert table and quit speaking to me altogether.

I thought to myself, this is the problem. When we were kids, we played in the dirt. We ate dirt, we lived in the dirt, and the dirt was our friend. We made mud castles, threw dirt clods, made forts out of dirt for toy soldiers and dug holes in feeble attempts to reach China. When school was out for the year we went barefooted from that time until the day after Labor Day and the start of the new school year. I cannot help but think that this practice helped us build up immunities to allergies and increase our resistance to the things kids suffer with these days. It looks to me as if we are raising hot house kids who spend all of their free time in front of a television or a computer. They need to get out and ride bikes and get some dirt on them. But sensory processing disorder is a challenge for parents. This could be another dilemma that every parent might encounter.

As much as the dirt might have helped us, I can think of a couple of practices that weren’t very healthy. The other day, there was something on the news about some kids having gotten some mercury from some place or another. It made the all the news. Haz-mat teams were called in and the school was evacuated. Well, I can remember when we took this stuff to our school each day in little pill bottles. Just to play with and trade. You could smash it with your fist (no gloves) and it would fly off into thousands of little pieces and then you could push them back together again and start over. You could coat nickels and dimes with the stuff and make them really shiny and bright. I recall that it was very heavy and the more you had the more popular you were. This was stupid….do not do this. No one told us what mercury could do to you. Probably no one really knew.

Likewise when we went to Sears for school clothes, they had these really neat machines that you could stand on and take an x-ray of your foot to see how well your school shoes fit. Of course when our parents were off looking at something else in the store, we would be sticking our hands and feet into the machine and hitting the old button time and again. No telling how much radiation those things put out to anyone looking through the viewfinder or the person having their various body parts subjected to inspection by their friends. If the hole had been big enough I’m fairly certain we would have stuck our heads in it as well. I wonder how many shoe store clerks became sterile and never knew why? Do not do this. This is stupid…..No one told us what x-rays could do. Probably no one knew.

So there you have it. My words for this week. Play in the dirt, stay away from mercury and x-ray machines. I hope the play in the dirt is good advice, but I would be surprised to find out I was wrong about that as well. But then again, I’m still alive and kicking and that’s a good thing, at least in my eyes.