Tuesday, August 7, 2007


The other day, my family was at a friend's house, just sitting on the porch talking. As we sat and talked, my younger daughter was eating a banana. As my husband helped her with some of the peel, part of the banana fell onto the porch. Faster than you could say, "dirty Chiquita," my child had grabbed it and shoved it in her mouth. She knew that I would probably make her throw it away if she hadn't acted so quickly. My response? Well, if there was any damage to be done, it was already done, right? My husband and I just looked at each other and shrugged. Another friend nearby commented, "five second rule, right?"

I can't imagine that there is anyone, at least those with children, who is not familar with the five second rule. Just in case, I'll explain. The five second rule is basically that if any food falls on the floor, you have five seconds to pick it up - - if you can do so in said five seconds, the food is still edible. I actually watched an episode of the Discovery series show "Mythbusters" that showed that food, such as a piece of bread or a slice of lunch meat, that is exposed to bacteria and germs, even for less than two seconds, is indeed susceptible to contamination. OK - so as an educated adult, I know that the five second rule isn't actually valid. . . so why didn't I pry my child's jaws open and extract the banana that had fallen on the porch floor?

I think by the time you get to the second child, you are a lot more worn down. Things that used to upset you with the first one don't seem like such a big deal once the second one arrives. When we brought our older daughter home from the hospital, I could hardly sleep for the first several nights. Every time she would make a sound or move, I would instantly be awake and peering over the edge of the bassinet to make sure she was still breathing. Of course, then when I hadn't heard her move or make a sound for awhile, that would worry me too, and I'd be back hanging over the edge, resisting the urge to hold my hand mirror up to her nose to make sure it would fog up as she exhaled. With the second one, I had a restless night or two, then it was peaceful dreams from there on. I still worry about the younger one, of course, but not nearly to the degree that I did with the first.

A friend of mine, who has three kids, explained it likes this: With the first child, when they drop the pacifier, you scoop it up off the floor and won't give it back to them until it has been sanitized. With the second child, you pick the pacifier up off the floor, take it to the sink and rinse it off, and hand it back to them. With the third child, you pick the pacifier up off the floor, brush it on your jeans, and hand it back to them.

I do, of course, have my standards. I won't let the kids pick up food that has been dropped in a restaurant or other public place. Food dropped on the ground when outdoors is off-limits as well. Most of the time, the five second rule gets instituted at home, and then, usually only because the kids swoop down and grab something before we've had a chance to stop them or to realize what just happened (as was the case with the banana.) We find that most of the time, the five second rule only gets used when it is something the kids actually really like. I have never seen either of them dive to the floor for say, a piece of broccoli or a lima bean.

Drop a green bean on the floor? Better get rid of it. A piece of cookie on the floor you say? One. . . . two. . . three. . . . four. . . .GOT IT!


Julianne said...

We were at the pool today and Tatum dropped a half eaten zebra cake into a puddle on the dirty concrete. She threw such a fit that I was half-tempted to pick up the soggy pile of sugar-laced lard and let her eat it. I didn't but the fact that I even considered is proof positive of my top notch parenting skills.

Becky said...

hmm. . .maybe if you had scraped off the layer that hit the puddle you would have been ok. . .LOL!

Michelle said...

It's not just the child number factor that accounts for your being lax -- it's your age. I've noticed it with my parenting. I don't get worked up over things that other new moms do and I firmly believe it's because I'm older. If Nathaniel throws food from his high chair and the right mood hits me, you can bet he will be served that same bite again. Floor schmoor!