Are You Germophobic? Having Kids Will Cure You of That.


GermophobicLet me begin by saying that my sister, Julie, is a bit of a germophobe. No more than I was, but she’s not a parent, so she hasn’t spent countless hours squatting in public restroom stalls begging her toddler not to lick the wall. Having small children breaks you of any germ fears. There is no other choice.


This past weekend, Julie drove with my boys and I to New Jersey to visit our mom. We stopped for lunch and before we got back in the car, Julie took the boys to the bathroom for one last pee before hitting the road.


About to wash his hands, Noah asked Aunt Julie if his new ring from the Tooth Fairy was waterproof. Julie wasn’t sure, so to be safe, Noah took it off and set it on a folded paper towel.


Sensible enough. But Julie accidentally overturned the paper towel.


No one saw where the ring went, though they heard a soft “ping” as it landed somewhere.


They got down and looked around. Now keep in mind that, as mentioned, Julie is not accustomed to kneeling in public restrooms. She has never had to hold back a scream as she watches Benjamin squeeze his tiny body behind the toilet tank. She has never had to stand in puddles of unidentified liquid as she wipes tiny tushies. She has never had to fish a fallen potty ring out from very unclean toilet water.


So kneeling on the tile bathroom floor at O’Mally’s chain restaurant already demonstrates the great love that Aunt Julie has for her nephews.


Still, though, she couldn’t see any sign of the ring.


Impossible. It’s not on the counter. It’s not on the floor.


A woman in one of the stalls catches on to the urgency of their quest and loans Julie a flashlight from her purse. Clearly a mom.


I look in the hallway, in case the ring has rolled out, and eventually we clear the women’s bathroom so I can join in on the search.


Then it dawns on Julie. There is only one other possibility. The ring must have bounced off the sink counter and into the trash barrel.


This is a big trash bin. No need to empty this thing more than once a day; it contains a hearty abundance of used paper towels, snotty tissues, bloody pads, soiled wipes, and lumpy chewing gum.


But Julie earns her Aunt badge that day as she rolls up her sleeves and digs in. Up to her shoulder.


Still no ring.


By now the management has been alerted. A man in a headset fires off commands to lost and found, our waitress, and someone named Edna for backup.


Edna comes to the bathroom and carries the trash barrel to the back of the kitchen to search it.


Five minutes later she emerges … holding the ring.


I literally cheer. Noah is thrilled. Julie jumps into the air.


And after a thorough hand, arm, and shoulder washing, Julie joins us in the car.


Just another day in the life of a parent. 



Brian Leaf

About Brian Leaf


Brian Leaf is author of the yoga memoir, Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD, and Find the Key to Happiness. You can find him online at

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