Wel­come to the brave new world of the Zero-Sec­ond Rule

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LIFE - Jim Mullen The Vil­lage Id­iot

My niece Ash­ley was vis­it­ing with her 6-mon­thold baby, Crash. Sue and I, like most friends and rel­a­tives of new par­ents, had al­ready had that dis­cus­sion be­fore she ar­rived — the one about the baby’s name. It al­ways starts with the same ques­tion: What was she think­ing? What­ever hap­pened to us­ing Bi­b­li­cal names, heroic names or fam­ily names? Now it’s like there’s a con­test for par­ents to find the most unique name pos­si­ble for a new­born — like Tooth­brush or Zanz­ibar.

And it never seems to work. By the time Crash gets to school, there will be two other Crashes, a cou­ple of Zanz­ibars and three Tooth­brushes, plus a few Daen­ery­ses, Lan­nis­ters and Po­dricks. “Game of Thrones” will be the gift that keeps on giv­ing, in that de­part­ment. There are plenty of worse things you could name a child — say, Ebenezer or Pil­low­case — but I al­ways won­der if th­ese chil­dren feel as good about their names as their par­ents do.

How many of them will come back from their first day of school say­ing, “Gee, thanks for nam­ing me Zanz­ibar, Mom! I got teased and bul­lied all day.”

I sup­pose there have al­ways been un­usual names; they sim­ply change with the times. If Cotton Mather and Ruther­ford B. Hayes could live with it, so can our chil­dren.

But there’s been an­other de­vel­op­ment in par­ent­ing that means, from now on, chil­dren will grow up in a sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent world.

It’s hard to be­lieve, but con­trary to what par­ents have been say­ing for­ever, it turns out that the long­hal­lowed Five-Sec­ond Rule is a bunch of hooey. Ap­par­ently, de­spite our longheld be­liefs, if you drop some food on the floor and pick it up within five sec­onds, it is not bac­te­ri­afree! Who knew?

Ac­tu­ally, we all knew. At home, mom might be able to get away with pick­ing up a piece of chicken she dropped on the floor, rins­ing it off and putting it back in the pan, but would you ever go to a restau­rant that ad­hered to that rule? Even if that restau­rant was called “Mom’s”? No way.

Re­cently, a group of killjoy sci­en­tists re­leased proof that it takes al­most no time for bac­te­ria to ad­here to food dropped on the floor, or any other un­san­i­tary sur­face.

The proof is in the pud­ding. Lit­er­ally. If you drop pud­ding on the floor, don’t scrape it up and eat it. No mat­ter what your mom says.

That does not mean it will kill you, or even make you sick. It sim­ply means it’s dis­gust­ing. Then again, it may also be healthy. Some re­search says that keep­ing chil­dren too safe from dirt and com­mon germs makes them weaker than chil­dren who are ex­posed to a wide va­ri­ety of bac­te­rial con­tact. It turns out that a lit­tle bit of dirt may be healthy.

I bring this up be­cause I think all of baby Crash’s food seems to come from the floor as he crawls along. Or from the dog’s dish.

I sup­pose floor-crumbs and dog food haven’t killed the dog yet, but that’s set­ting a very low bar for healthy eat­ing.

Af­ter he crawls on the floor, Crash will stick his lit­tle fin­gers in his mouth and suck the dirt off. Then he’ll stick ev­ery toy he has in his mouth be­fore he does any­thing else with it.

Th­ese are the same toys that all his tiny cousins have also stuffed in their mouths first. Still, he seems to be an amaz­ingly healthy 6-month-old.

You can hear him screech from across the street when the mood strikes him, and he can crawl out of sight faster than you can take an­other Xanax. One can only imag­ine how healthy he’ll be once he gets into day care — shar­ing germs from 10 or 20 dif­fer­ent fam­i­lies, ex­pos­ing him­self to every­thing that’s go­ing around all day long. Spread­ing the joy of dirt.

Con­tact Jim Mullen at mullen.jim@gmail.com.

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