You keep the water: I'll take the mango 2015.04.08


I suppose any of our VolunTeens, the wonderful teenage volunteers who help with our Summer Reading Program at the library, would not be surprised that I have a really hard time when it comes to grossness and grandkids.

The VolunTeens hear it over and over in the summer, “Happy Birthday your hands!” I insist on cleanliness when they are handling food. Wash your hands, wash them for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday”—and then put gloves on if you’ll be touching food. 

Some think it’s crazy to have to wash their hands before putting gloves on. I see this in food establishments and medical arenas all the time—people putting on gloves without washing their if they are protecting themselves instead of the other way around. If you touch one glove with a dirty hand while putting it on, you’ve negated the purpose of the glove. It grosses me out to think about it—almost more than the grossness grandkids are capable of.

The first morning of our visit to the grandgirls in Kentucky last weekend, Caroline woke me at 8 a.m. to announce, “I saved you some, Grandma! I saved you some mango!” And then she put the little piece of mango in her mouth (To demonstrate how good it is? To get a last taste of it?), took it out, and offered it to me again, “I saved it for you! Try it, Grandma!”

Oy. As I chewed the mango, inside my head I was singing,

Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts

Mutilated monkey meat

Hairy pickled piggy feet

French fried eyeballs floating in some kerosene 

And me without a spoon.

Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts

Scab sandwich, puss on top

Vulture vomit, camel snot

Deep dish boogers soaking in a bowl of fat

And me without a spoon.

Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts

Parrot eyeballs dipped in glue

Petrified porpoise puss

Flaming ear wax bobbing in a bowl of barf

And me without a spoon.

Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts

Desiccated dinosaur dung

Percolated pelican poop

Tortoise turd balls with the little flies inside

And me without a spoon.

I don’t really know those lyrics. I learned a slight variation, but I found these online and they fit the mood precisely. 

Ellie, at 16 months, is the sweetest baby ever and also generous with her food.

“Yum,” she says as she reaches over to feed me whatever bits of manhandled food are on her tray.

“Yum!” I say as I munch what she’s offering. Mutilated monkey meat? Hairy pickled piggy feet? 

The song rings in my ears and I cringe inside as I think about where her hands have been in the minutes before she says, “Yum,” and holds out her arm with a pea at the end of it. She’s serious; she has Jewish mother tendencies and watches while you eat what she’s offered. “Yum.” But I saw her put her finger in her nose, in her mouth. Did her hand also go inside her diaper?

Desiccated dinosaur dung? Percolated pelican poop? Tortoise turd balls with the little flies inside? Oy, again.

I draw the line at liquids. I am totally grossed out by the thought of drinking from the same glass, the same water bottle as my grandkids. I don’t like to share my glass with anybody, but add the prospect of backwash, the mucus leaking over lips, dirty fingers dipped in just for the luscious feel of the water (“Never pass an opportunity for water play,” is their motto.)—and I am just beside myself with the willies.

I would die for my grandkids, I’d give up a kidney or a cornea, two even, anything—awaken at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. on vacation—but when it comes to sucking water out of a straw that they’ve just touched with dirty hands, slurped on, dropped into a too tall water bottle? I just can’t do it. 

Backwashed water? Oy. I can fake it, but I can’t do it for real.

Save some mango for me instead.