The Five Second Rule: The Secret Gross Thing Mums Do

I’m helping my two-year-old into the car. She’s about to climb into her car seat when she gets distracted by the sight of day’s old food on the floor mat. She jumps down, picks up the remnants of a cracker (I hope) and yells, “Five-second rule!” (Which when uttered by a toddler sounds more like “5eckedwool.”) She then proceeds to inhale what’s left of the cracker as if it’s manna from heaven.

My husband looks at me with that raised eyebrow/all knowing/he’s going say something annoying look that only a spouse could love. “You know where she got that from,” he says. His eyes have already answered the question. My daughter got this gross habit from me.

Before you go thinking I’m some sort of Neanderthal and that my children are actually being raised by wolves, let me explain. I’m a very clean person who generally does not eat food off the floor. But in parenting, like life, there are exceptions. Sometimes a piece of food like a cracker or not-yet-washed piece of fruit will fall on the floor. I scoop it up within micro-seconds. Do I eat it? Yeah; unless it’s visibly filthy or fallen in some sort of HazMat zone.

Exceptions come up with kids all the time leaving a mum no choice but to surrender to grossness. I once took my kids to the park and didn’t bring my bag filled with the normal array snacks and water. My son had a snack pack of Barbecue Shapes in his hand and it dropped. In effort to avert the potential “I’m going to starve because Mummy didn’t bring any other snacks” meltdown than only comes when a mum leaves the house hands-free, I picked up the Shapes that didn’t fall in a puddle, mud, or dog poo, brushed them off and gave them back to my son.

That’s the 5-second-rule in action.

The truth is, being a mum is really gross. It’s impossible to avoid. It’s part of the job description of a people-raiser.  Before I had kids, I feared changing nappies.  But changing a dirty nappy is nothing compared to cleaning a sinus-infected nose.  A new mum may change 12 nappies a day, but she’ll pick 12 noses a week as well. Occasionally, she’ll even marvel at her findings.

Cleaning up a kid’s puke seems nasty until the first time that kid pukes on you. Trust me, I’ve done both. I’ll clean it anytime as long as I don’t have to wear it.  And neither compares to the first time a mum has to introduce her child to the wonderful world of suppositories.

Mums of infant boys know what it’s like to go to change the little guy’s nappy and get peed on instead. I can even tell you what it’s like to have my little man pee in my mouth, as if he were aiming. I’ve caught my son’s poo with my very hands and pulled a small round bead out of my daughter’s nose with my fingertips as well.

So when I’m faced with a kid who wants to eat a mashed up cracker from the floor of the car that’s probably been stepped on or worse, I’m not really concerned. My kids are going to be parents someday. Their children will sneeze, puke and poo on them. Just like me, my kids will brush themselves off, get over the nasty vomit smell in their hair, try to forget what it’s like to put a suppository in a small person’s butt and help their kids get that last Cheetoh off the floor of the car. Lord knows it’ll probably be the cleanest thing they do all day.

How gross are you? Do tell. I told you mine!

Image: Getty