In Defense of Dirty Hands

dirtykidToday I had an interesting experience at a local gas station convenience store. I was on the way home from a play date at the park with my boys, and the boys were thirsty. They had both had full cups of water when we went to the park, but they played hard and drank all of their water. When Dylan asked if we could stop and get a drink, I said that we could because there was a store on the way home.

At the gas station, I got the boys out of the car and went inside. We took a bottle of apple juice and a bottle of water from the cooler and went to the cash register. As I was paying the clerk for our drinks, the woman behind me said “Wow, his hands are so dirty”. I told her that we had just had a wonderful time at the playground, and we were headed home for a bath and some dinner. I figured that that would be the end of the conversation and I could go along my merry way.

As I picked up the drinks and took Dylan’s hand to walk out the door, the woman said, “There’s dirt in between his fingers.” I don’t remember what I said, or if I even said anything as I walked out the door. Anger bubbled up inside of me as I led Dylan through the parking lot to the car, carrying Blake in my other arm. Why had that woman felt the need to make such judgmental comments? What business is it of hers if Dylan has dirty hands? The parade of negative thoughts made my head spin as I made a mental note to myself: apparently one must take a wipe to the hands of one’s children before taking them into ANY sort of public place, lest judgment be passed upon them.

Do I always take my kids around town with dirty hands? No. Do I sometimes forget to wipe off their hands after a trip to the playground? Yes, and today was one of those days. To hear the tone of voice that this woman was using you would think that I had just committed some unspeakable horror. If I could respond to her now, I would tell her that my kids sometimes have dirty hands because they spend a majority of their waking hours outside playing. This includes playing in dirt, sand, grass, and any other natural stuff they can get their hands on. Some days they get a little dusty, other days they get filthy. Wherever you are judgmental lady, you can rest assured that at the very least their hands are cleaned before dinner, and most nights they get baths. My kids and I love the outdoors. We are happy and we are healthy. In fact, my little guys are living proof that a little dirt never hurt – they get sick far less often than most children their age.

There’s nothing like a judgmental remark to ruin an otherwise perfectly enjoyable day. I do my best to refrain from passing judgment on others, and comments like the one from this woman are the reason why. I choose not to rain on anyone else’s parade, because every family marches to the beat of a different drummer.

Photo by ronnieb on