My daughter was nowhere in sight. I’m always the first to panic when our kids disappear at the park. I panic like a mommy with an only child.
I circled the playground; not caring if the sand filled my shoes or a swing smacked me from the side, until I spotted the back of Babyface. She was going in for the kill. She had cupped and dipped both hands into the child-made well of water that settled underneath the water fountain spout. Some kid had strategically covered the drain with sand, so it was overflowing.
My 8mm reel turned on, the sound disappeared and everything flipped to slow motion. She was about to do the unthinkable, a vile deed to the core. I couldn’t get close enough to scream, “stop!” Or, maybe I was mute from fear. She took the self-made hand-cupped water and took a BIG sip of it!
My mind blew flashes of pictures in front of my eyes. The bum I had passed just 5 minutes before that I could smell from 50 feet away, licking the tip of the water fountain. The kid with the croup cough that picked his nose, rinsing his finger off. Squirrels bathing in the same, tiny well, Snow-White style.
“Babyface!” I yelled. I didn’t want to startle her, but she was about to take another sip of the zombie juice. “What, Mommy?” she turned and replied.
“Honey, please don’t drink that! Step away from the drinking fountain,” I replied.
I was pretty sure my volume was on high and I needed to turn it down, but the dial was stuck. My friend was calmly telling the kids not to drink the water from the base, but to drink it from the fountain. I wasn’t so calm and I probably sounded borderline cuckoo, crazy. I didn’t even want Babyface drinking from the fountain. In my eyes, everything about that public, stainless steel, fountain-of-disease was covered in germs.
This is where my daughter started to cry. “But I want to wash my face in the water. I want to drink from the fountain. Why, Mommy?” she asked.
She was so sad. It was almost like I had taken her favorite crocodile puppet away and handed it to her friends. I was the evil germaphobe, who had fallen off the wagon. I was making her cry, based solely on a suspicion that the water could be tainted with something like cholera. My theory that the bum came here in a time machine and dropped disease into the water was wearing thin and breaking my daughter’s heart. Okay, I didn’t really think that, but I have a wild imagination, so my mind was going there.
“Fine. Go ahead and wash your face,” I said, going against my grain.
She must do far worse things at school, when I’m not watching. She will do far worse and disgusting things in the future that I won’t know about. I’m pretty sure as a kid, pre-germaphobe infliction, I drank out of drinking fountains and water hoses. I’m pretty sure I didn’t always catch the water in the air and my lips must’ve touched the spout.
This is where I realized drinking fountains and city, public toilet stalls aren’t equal opportunity. Drinking fountains need to have a self-cleaning option. There are toilets in the middle of large cities that clean themselves, why not something my daughter can’t figure out not to lick the tip of?
I think there should be a proposition to create self-cleaning water fountains to keep our kids from getting bum cholera or drinking zombie juice. Anyone on board? This is more important than healthcare and education funding, right?