Joey, Allie... This is for you. May these stories be like tiny feathers that will one day drift down out of nowhere, bringing back great memories and smiles. You have brought me true joy with your laughter and song. This is your roadmap back to your youth and my guide home when memories fade. What a blessing it has been! What a blessing it continues to be.
A curious game that my children enjoy is one known as "Touch the Sink." This game only works if one child has an unhealthy fear of germs and in my family, that fear is alive and well. My daughter is a true germaphobe and has developed very detailed plans on how to enter and exit a public restroom without ever touching a door handle or bathroom surface of any kind. I have learned to manage this fear by employing my own internal time clock that tells me if she has been in the restroom too long and is trapped on the other side of the door waiting for the next person to enter so that she can make her escape. It is common practice, while dining out, for me to leave the table in mid conversation, chewing on my last bite of buffet turkey from the Luanne Platter, to push open the restroom door and return before anyone can ask what I'm doing. This child of mine is the same one who will not use an eating utensil if it has touched the table at any point before or during dinner. Should her fork accidentally fall from her plate to the table, she will instinctively hand it to me, take my fork, continue eating and watch to see if I fall to my death as I put her tainted fork to my mouth. Once my possible demise is no longer a concern, dinner continues on with no notice to the strange exchange of germ laden forks and spoons that occurs throughout the meal without question by those at the table. It is as natural to our dining experience as buttering a dinner roll. We accept it as a normal practice and things go much smoother this way. I learned a long time ago not to make a big deal of her anxieties or I would be fueling them with my own fear of germs. I have come a long way, licking dinnerware that has fallen to the wayside simply to convince my child that we are stronger than the germs or her fears. There are times however, that my insides turn to jelly as she hands me the next germ covered item. We were in church recently and it happened to be the day we were taking the Lord's Supper. They began by passing out tiny crackers that represented the body of Christ. We each took our cracker and as we waited for the juice to arrive, I heard a gasp come from my child's lips as she stared down at the floor at the tiny representation of our Savior, now lying amongst the germs. She carefully picked it up and handed it to me. She instinctively took my cracker and left me with the one from the floor. Panic set in as I realized you can't just throw out the cracker that represents Jesus. I had to ingest it. I stared down at the cracker in my hand and knew that I had to place it in my mouth after it had been on the floor where many a sinner had trod. With wide eyes, my daughter looked on as I carefully put the tiny cracker in my mouth and swallowed, praying that eating from the floor would not kill me. As luck would have it, I was saved and life continued on. We deal with my daughter's fears as best we can and have taught her to laugh at the situation whenever possible. Which brings us back to the nighttime game of Touch the Sink... My son will grab his sister and drag her down the hallway, giggling and screaming, in an attempt to make her touch the bathroom sink. While the sink is clean, to a germaphobe, it is teaming with bacteria and deadly organisms that can cause you to drop dead upon contact. She will scream with fear and delight as she knows the sink is getting closer and closer. While my own brother used to tackle me, pin me down and threaten to let spit drool down onto my face, I can't imagine that "Touch the Sink" could be much worse. I survived my brother's spit and I'm certain my daughter will make it past a few nighttime games of "Touch the Sink." I understand that facing your fears is a cognitively sound way to move past them, so I allow this game and will continue to lick a few dirty forks on our way to wellness.