Tag Archive for: filth

Staving off Germs on Public Transport with Kids

This is the filth on a good day.

This is the filth on a good day.

They might as well name a garbage/rubbish incinerator after us Villanos before we clear out of London at the end of this year. How else would the locals commemorate (or, um, publicly shame) the inordinate number of wipes we have been using every time we take the Tube?

No exaggeration: On most trips we break into double-digits. The reason: Bannisters.

You see, L has a tendency to tell stories wherever she goes. And when she’s telling stories, she’s not exactly paying attention to where she’s going. Over the course of her life, the child has fallen down more flights of stairs than just about any of us can imagine. So in an effort to keep her from tumbling down staircases in the Tube (many of which have about 200 stairs), we’ve implored her to use the bannister.

The good news is that she has listened (and has not fallen…yet). The bad news is that the bannisters here in London’s subway system are some of the filthiest surfaces 0n earth.

Every single time we take the subway, the kid’s hand turns sooty black in a matter of seconds. This past weekend, while simply heading down from street level to the ticket booths at our local stop, the situation got so bad it looked like she had wiped her hands in tar. Or coal dust. Or sludge.

When this sort of thing happens, my gut reaction is to ignore it until she realizes she is the one who controls how dirty things get. Then my neuroses kick in. What if she puts that filth in her mouth or wipes it on her face? What if it leads to some obscure strain of sores? What if the sores spread all over her body?

I’m not Donald Trump when it comes to germs, but I have been known to spaz a bit on the subject. And what we’re calling “Tube Hands” syndrome has triggered a few sweat-through-your-shirt moments (for me), which is why we’ve been overusing those wipes.

Lest you think I hate the environment, we’ve tried more eco-friendly methods such as hand sanitizer and Witch Hazel. Quite frankly, these don’t remove the black.

We also have tried the old-fashioned strategy of negotiating with L to wash her hands more frequently, but if you’ve ever dealt with a 4-year-old, you understand that we’re lucky if the kid actually washes her hands after she pees.

We even have proposed that L wears gloves when we ride the Tube, though L seems adamantly opposed to that approach. (In many ways, this is a blessing; when coupled with my staunch “no face photos” philosophy, the notion of forcing gloves on the kids really would make me feel like Michael Jackson.)

And so, until something better comes along, wipes are our way to go. I apologize in advance to the British government for contributing to the garbage problem. The VINCINERATOR has a nice ring.

How do you keep your kids’ hands clean on public transportation during family trips?