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Is it REALLY gross, or are people just uptight?

post #1 of 178
Thread Starter 
In the last few weeks, I have gotten SO many comments from friends, family, and nosy strangers about the way I let my DD play outside. I guess it's pretty unusual for most people that I let her crawl around in the grass and the dirt and that it really doesn't bother me when she tries tasting the dirt, or the sticks, or the rocks. I don't let her put small rocks or pebbles in her mouth (choking) and I NEVER let her play anywhere where there's trash or any kind of toxic like lawn chemicals, etc., but I just don't see the harm in her getting dirty. She digs, and rubs it in her hair, and generally gets muddy and paddles in puddles and all that. Babies are washable, right, and I'd rather see her gnawing on sticks than on some toy full of PVC. I'd rather give her a bath when we get home than stick her in a stroller and prevent her from exploring the real world. But people keep STARING at us and making all kinds of comments, and I'm wondering if I'm out of line here. Even taking her out in the rain (even though it's over 90 here) seems to cause people to think I'm abusive or neglectful. What IS it with this super-clean thing? Am I the only one who just doesn't care all that much about dirt?
post #2 of 178
I'm with you -- little kids are SUPPOSED to get dirty, in my opinion. It is good for them to get dirty! Sensory experiences, and all that.

I too get looks from people, especially when we're at the playground and dd is covering herself (and sometimes me) in mulch. I think it's great, I actively encourage it.
post #3 of 178
Well, I'm just like you. My dcs are often filthy at the end of the day. In fact that's our marker of how good the day was! :LOL

If people comment I say, "Well, since we don't vaccinate, I figure they've got to get a little boost to the immune system somehow." :LOL

I don't get super-clean, either. :
post #4 of 178
LOL...what fun is going outside to a kid if they can't get dirty? Heck, I let my kid play outside completely naked sometimes, and he comes in caked in all sorts of dirt and grass stains. And he had a blast doing it (and even more fun with the bath afterwards :LOL )
post #5 of 178
I'm with you! My mother is obsessed with being clean. As soon as one of my kids gets anything on them she is chasing after them with a wet paper towel. I don't think the parents at my sons basebal game like me much either. Their kids saw mine playing in the dirt and joined right in...:LOL
post #6 of 178
Another vote for "people are just uptight."
post #7 of 178
If only I could convince my kids that it's fun to get dirty! My 4 yr old is going through a stage where if any part of his clothes gets a speck of dirt or drop of water on it he needs to change before he like melts away or something. It's really a big issue! He must change clothes like 10 times a day.

But I never made a big fuss about them getting dirty either. I love puddle jumping when it's been raining!
post #8 of 178
They are uptight and weird. Getting mucky is fun and very good for you in all sorts of ways.
post #9 of 178


I have a just turned 3 year old and I have to tell myself that is is normal for her to play outside and get dirty and that is part of life and learning. I don't know how old your baby is, but I confess I would be staring too if I saw a baby covered in mud making mud patties - especially at a park. Consider the germs, bacteria, and parasites you don't see. How many cats have walked through there and used it without you seeing - just because you don't see poop doesn't mean they haven't been doing it. Ringworm, ecoli, histoplasmosis (disease from bird droppings) are to name a few. Not to mention things like bugs, stickers, etc. that could scratch or injure your baby. A stick is not a safe toy for a baby - they could poke themself in the eye! As they saying goes God made dirt and (a little) dirt don't hurt - but consider how dirty are you letting your child get? I have seen mom's doing this a few times at the park and it drives me nuts. I think it does border on neglectful parenting. As a parent it is our job to keep our children safe. I think you have to use comon sense.

ANother thing - every once in awhile I will be at the grocery store or shopping and I will see a dirty filthy kid/baby sitting in the shopping cart while the mother is shopping. THat is absolutely neglectful! I want to tap them on the shoulder and say - "ever heard of soap? -it is cheap!"

( that is a huge pet peeve of mine!)
post #10 of 178
My DD is usually totally filthy at the end of the day. (As am I!) I don't let her actually chew on sticks (splinters in the mouth would be not so fun) or eat dirt (we do get stray cats in the yard sometimes) but she certainly is not a clean child. :LOL I would let her play with mud depending on what she was wearing (some of her clothes are on loan and have to be returned to friends/relatives).
post #11 of 178
My kids are the same. I think it's natural for them to explore their new world.

A friend of ours moved here 5 years ago from Brazil and her son is just like ours. But, she says it's really hard when they go home to visit b/c she doesn't feel as safe letting him play w/nature, etc.
post #12 of 178
My dad always comments on how great it is that I don't care if ds gets dirty or gets his clothes dirty. My mom was a total freak about dirt and would be furious if we came home dirty. Just normal park dirt (not even digging) and we would have to take our clothes off on the back porch. I encourage it dirty play. I never met a kid that wouldn't come clean with some soaking, soap and water. I never met a stain I couldn't get out.

I was a lot more careful at the park than in our own backyard, just because there was always a lot of crap in the sand. Our park here is pretty clean so I dont' worry at all.
post #13 of 178
The dirtier the kid, the more fun they're having. I do limit what goes in his mouth, though. I've known too many kids with worms. Shudder.
post #14 of 178
I'm glad it's not just me! DD loves to get her hands in the mud-rub it all over her body; totes sticks and rocks as she run around the lawn...thats what kids are supposed to do right? People are weird - children and messes go together
post #15 of 178
My kids are routinely filthy by the end of the day. We have a new house, and don't have our yard in yet, but we do have a fenced in backyard, and they love to go out and play and dig in the dirt. I hate having all the dirt in my house, but that's another story. My youngest (2 yrs) likes to taste everything- and routinely is putting rocks, dirt, and grass in her mouth. (I think she has some issues with pica and iron deficiency, and we're taking her to the Dr next week...) I mean, I watch them closely, but I really have no problem with them getting dirty and having fun outside. Seriously, I can't stand when I hear moms yelling at their kids in the park because they are playing in the dirt- isn't that what parks are for?

ANother thing - every once in awhile I will be at the grocery store or shopping and I will see a dirty filthy kid/baby sitting in the shopping cart while the mother is shopping. THat is absolutely neglectful! I want to tap them on the shoulder and say - "ever heard of soap? -it is cheap!"
Okay, I'm really not trying to cause trouble, but this really bothers me. You have no idea what might be going on when you see a mother and a dirty child. Sometimes I'll be out with my kids, and no matter how hard I try, they get dirty, spill something on their clothes etc. We can be making a five minute trip somewhere, and we'll leave with clean clothes, and arrive somewhere with a shirt stained, a mouth covered in chocolate milk, and there's no way I'm going to turn around and go back home because my kid has a dirty shirt on. My youngest will not wear shoes for more than 30 seconds at a time, and goes barefoot everywhere because of that, so yes, her feet look filthy most of the time. But it's better that than fighting the "Put on your sandals" battle every five minutes. And there are other times where we've been to the park for a few hours, and we stop at the grocery store on the way home for something we need for dinner. I'm not going to leave my kids in the car, and I don't always carry a change of clothes or wet wipes with me so that they can be more "presentable" in the grocery store. Sorry. They're kids, and getting dirty is what they do.

Besides, one of my great pleasures is having a really dirty kid, getting them in the bath at night, and seeing them get all clean and come out smelling so good!
post #16 of 178
I let my son get as dirty as he wants! I love it. I think you sound like an awesome mama, llyra. As for dirty kids in the supermarket, well, to each their own. If you saw us in the market I can almost guarantee he would be filthy, but he'd also be smiling. I've got a dirty, happy kid and I'm proud of it!
post #17 of 178
I'm a huge fan of the mud pie. Charlie loves to play in the mud.

My mom watches him during the day and they have a large muddy spot in their yard that is his favorite place to kick around in. She gives him the hose (on low) and he waters all her plants, fills up his little pool, makes mud, etc. The only thing she does is keeps a pair of cheap sandals on his feet and when they get so caked up with mud that he can't walk she just wipes it off and then he gets to go at it again. (he used to go barefoot but wound up getting all sorts of cuts and scrapes on the bottoms of his feet so the sandals help with that issue)

As far as seeing dirty kids in a grocery store. I agree, you have no idea what their day has been like. Like the pp said, what if they were just on their way home from a play date and didn't clean them up just to go to the store? I try not to judge or question others ability as parents but the things that bother me most are the behaviors of parents/attitudes towards their kids rather than the cleanliness. (we've all seen parents screaming and threatening spankings, etc. at their kids in stores -- that's the kind of behavior that bothers me).

And, as far as parks go I'm cautious just because I know that they treat the grass with all sorts of chemicals. In my lawn I know what goes on it (and what doesn't).

I'm voting people are too uptight and stick their noses into other people's business more often than they should.
post #18 of 178
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by babydoll
A stick is not a safe toy for a baby - they could poke themself in the eye!
I guess I'm in trouble, then, because she's explored all kinds of sticks-- today she had one maybe four feet long. I sit right next to her, though, and guide her. Heck, I let her play with a teacup the other day, and she had the cat's ceramic dish this morning. I just sit right there with my hands involved in the exploration, and carefully lead her to explore the object safely. The splinters thing is a good point, though, but most of her sticks have had bark on them.

And as for the germs, I think that a baby's immune system is a whole lot heartier than some people think. And protecting kids too much from germs prevents them from developing their own natural resistance. Have you read Guns, Germs, and Steel ? Check it out.

The human race survived and prospered on this earth for a long time before we discovered antiseptics and antibiotics. I really do think that Lysol and other chemical cleansers is a whole lot more likely to harm my child than some innocent garden soil. It's not like she's unwashed, either; she gets a soapy bath every single night (believe me, she needs it) and I wash her face and hands at least 5 times a day, especially before she eats.

Anyway, thanks for the reassurance, mamas. It's nice to know I'm not the only one. I know I'm a little more laid-back than most mamas, and sometimes I need a reality check.
post #19 of 178
huge fan of mud puddles and rain puddles, splashing in the rain...

just repeat of what everyone else pretty much said.

i am a little put off by the poster who is annoyed by dirty kids at the store, my kid comes out of the store with a brown face quite a bit. i let him have a cookie from the bakery and it usually chocolate chip. since we dont keep treats like that at home, it is a huge treat to get to go to the store with mommy and get a cookie. so call me neglectful, but i see nothing wrong with it.
post #20 of 178
I have to wonder how much fun an always clean child can possibly have. :LOL My kids get pretty dirty. I do limit what goes in dd's mouth and I wipe her hands once in awhile to clean them off, but the rest of her can get very dirty. I don't see what the big deal is, they don't go to bed that way.

And if the most neglectful thing a parent does is let their child be dirty in public, more power to them. I'm not going to NOT stop at the store on the way home from the park b/c of what some stranger thinks of my kids with their dirty faces and clothes. Puh-leeze. And no, I wouldn't bring them really filthy, but a few dirt and grass stains that couldn't be brushed off won't kill anybody.
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