Friday, April 28, 2017

The Power of Dirt

Written by  Rev. Kelly Crenshaw
Is filth her friend? Is filth her friend?

Cassandra is learning to share. She will share her toys (sometimes), and she absolutely loves to share her food. Just yesterday, she and I shared a glass of ice water. She drank her share and then passed it to me. She helped me hold the glass, as I always do with her, and was not satisfied until I drank some of the water. We continued to drink, passing the glass back and forth, for several minutes. She beamed every time I took a drink.

The other day I watched as Cassandra shared her lunch with our two dogs. One bite for her. One bite for each of the dogs. They have learned to sit and wait patiently whenever food is served because they know that Cassandra will give them each a bite or two or ten. And, of course, the baby never fails to deliver.

But, every time she feeds them this way, I cringe when I think of the germs that could be passing from the dogs’ mouths to her hands. Our dogs aren’t dirty dogs. We keep them clean and groomed, but they are dogs, after all. So, I worry about the kinds of germs that are now living on my baby girl – excuse me, grown up toddler girl who can do everything by herself, thank you very much.

And then, I remember our friends from softball. Years ago, our church had a softball team. I was the manager and kept the scorebook. A number of our older kids played and my dad was the coach. The folks who ran the league had two kids – a boy about ten and a preschool aged girl. The kids were well known at the ballpark because their parents were always there. So, we all came to know the family pretty well.

One day, I was talking to the parents and the subject of germs and kids came up. They told a horrible story about how they’d been the stereotypical overprotective parents when their kids were younger. They used hand sanitizer all the time and nothing that touched the floor touched their kids. They constantly washed their hands. They toys were cleaned in bleach water at least weekly. They were very conscientious parents. They thought they were doing the right thing.

And then, their little girl got sick – really sick. She ended up being hospitalized with an infection that resisted treatment. After many agonizing weeks, the little girl was pronounced healthy enough to return home. But, she wasn’t released without some stern advice.

The doctors told this family to lighten up and let their child be a child. They went on to explain that children need to be exposed to germs so that their bodies learn to fight off infection naturally. They became the model family for letting their kids get dirty. They stopped panicking about every dirty hand and face. They realized that part of raising kids is letting them be kids. And, kids get dirty.

So, when Cassandra comes running up to me with a flower in her hand, I smile. And, I take that flower, roots and all, and cherish it. Yes, she gets dirty, but she’s happy and healthy. Such a wonderful life for such a special little girl.

Rev. Kelly Crenshaw is the mom of 16 adopted kids, two biological kids, guardian of one baby girl and foster mom of dozens. Some are lesbian, some gay, some straight, and some bisexual. Kelly founded a K-12 day school where kids could have a safe, bully-free environment for learning. She is co-owner of a counseling agency that works with children and their families. Send your parenting questions to her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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