I am not a germaphobe. No way, no how. Growing up in the Bronx, playing outside, riding buses, trains and the occasional Yellow Cab, did not allow the luxury of having germaphobia.
My goodness, we Bronxites held great respect for germs.
So much so that if a child in the neighborhood came down with the measles, the mumps or any of a myriad of other childhood diseases, neighborhood moms would purposefully plan play dates with the sick child.
Share and share alike was the motto the Bronx parents lived by and instilled in us. Sometimes that motto was spoken in hushed tones, supporting the madness. The sooner their own children could get it over with, the better.
My sisters and I were not afraid of getting dirty. We played hard and loved it.
My mom (z”l) believed in and set in motion a perfect plan for the sharing of diseases: If one of us girls (me or my sisters) got sick, we must all get sick together.
It was so much easier for her. Mom had other important things to take care of: mah-jongg, canasta, shopping, the beauty parlor, discussing and comparing, just to name a few.
One of the reasons my sisters and I were potty-trained early — I was the earliest at less than 1 year old — was to make Mommy’s life more pleasant. I mean, really, who wants to change poopy diapers longer than necessary?
Lest we forget, disposable diapers were an item of the future.
Remember the above statement; it will come in handy at the end of my shpiel.
The other day a sweet, adorable, blond-haired, blue-eyed beauty held out her little hand to give me her gift of love.
Whatever possessed me in that moment to look before I accepted my little gift, I will never know. However, I was so happy I did.
One of the highlights of my workday is experiencing the preschool children. These sweet, mischievous, clever, free spirits keep my own spirit from becoming tired and stale.
Every day I receive more from these little people than I could ever hope to repay. Their curiosity knows no bounds, allowing me to feel freer to be curious.
They are not concerned with asking questions. They aren’t concerned with making a mistake or spinning and falling or giggling until they can no longer stand on their feet.
When I open the door to a classroom, the children run to greet me, ready to share, ready to explain, ready to learn. I could write a best seller with all the secrets I hear.
Each class has its own culture. In one class, the moment I arrive, some children have taken to removing their little shoes, just so I can put them back on.
Some will rip the bows out of the hair carefully crafted by Mommy or Daddy so I can create a new look.
Faces look up at me with smiles to melt my heart.
I have never quite figured out how these children discovered my mom’s perfect plan of sharing and fighting off diseases. Every year around Sukkot, and again around Shavuot, my mom’s plan is set in motion as I cough and sneeze my way through the week.
Let’s get back to my gift of love.
On this particular morning, this beautiful creature held out her hand with her gift of love. In that nanosecond of hesitation, I quickly realized the aroma emanating from her gift was not the sweet smell of chocolate.
Pampers, take me away!