'Glee'ful germaphobes and me

My husband and I recently decided to do a one-month free trial of Netflix. While trying to decide which movie to watch first, I came across the hit TV show “Glee.”

I stayed up watching the first two episodes well into the wee hours of the morning while my husband slept peacefully beside me (typical of our movie nights) and was delightedly introduced to a character who is a little paranoid when it comes to germs.

Emma Pillsbury, played by Jayma Mays, is a guidance counselor and full-blown germaphobe who doesn’t like “messes.” She sanitizes everything from her desk to her dining table and even wears plastic gloves before opening her individually wrapped, perfectly portioned lunch.

I had to laugh because … Emma is strangely a lot like me.

I am one of “those” people who also wipe down the restaurant table before setting my kid’s food on top. I completely spray down the high chair seat, inside and out, before setting my baby boy inside. I don’t do public pools. I don’t do indoor play places. If someone is sick at a play date, I either drive myself into a panic making sure my kid’s hands never touch the “contaminated” ones, or turn right back around and head home.

You may call me crazy, but I prefer “cautious.” It drives my husband absolutely mad when we’re at some family function and I hear a quiet sniffle from across the room and shoot him a warning look saying, “Keep our kids away from that one!”

I believe I have a sixth sense for sniffles and sneezes — we could spend an entire evening with snorking cousins, and when we get home I all but throw our two boys in the bath to do a thorough scrub-down. My husband will look at me quizzically and say, “Who was sick? I never heard a thing.”

I’ve actually come a long way from when my first son was born and I quarantined myself to my condo for three months straight (he was born in December, the peak of cold/flu season, although I’m quite convinced there is no “season” for sickness — it’s all around us, all the time!) and didn’t let anyone hold or touch my baby if they hadn’t showered and put on fresh clothes and radioactive suits before coming close.

Just kidding … on the radioactive thing.

I’ve heard that exposing my kids to germs will supposedly strengthen their immune systems and they’ll be “healthier” … but I always find it fascinating to learn that kids their age who are in day care or are constantly around other kids or public places catch far more colds and other illnesses or strange diseases than mine.

In fact, my kids have never had “12 colds a year” that so many doctors say are common for toddlers and elementary-age children. I can count on one hand the number of times my almost 3-year-old boy has ever had a fever or runny nose.

I attribute this partly to a strong immune system and partly to my paranoia.

It’s not that I’m worried that my boys are necessarily going to die from another child cough/barking in their general direction, but more so the fact that if they get sick, it’s a miserable 10 days for the entire family. Not only are they unhappy and uncomfortable, but it’s frustrating and difficult trying to soothe a little baby who can’t nurse because he can’t breath, or forcing my toddler to let me suction out his red, raw nose for the umpteenth time.

Hey, at least I’m not as bad as Howie Mandel, who demands his money be washed before he can touch it!

I will say that the older my kids get, the less I worry. But I’ll probably always be that weird mom at the birthday party squirting sanitizer into my kids’ hands before they take their turn at pinning the tail on the donkey.

Have you ever known an “Emma” or “Howie” in your life? Do you think it’s better to let your kids play and be exposed to germs, or do you panic in public places?

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