Even in the normal comings and goings of a typical family day, the world is full of spectacular and breathtaking things to see. Stunningly beautiful sunsets, intricate and delicate flowers, lush landscapes…all perfectly painted in a new theme of rich color each season of the year…
Boys don’t give a rip about looking at any of this. But they are very concerned with making sure their hand slides along on every single inch of every single handrail next to every single place they walk.
We recently enjoyed a summer vacation that took us through Washington Dulles airport, which basically resembles a giant glass and chrome fish tank for people. Our three boys succeeded in running their hands along 14.8 linear miles of escalator railings, ticket counter edges, and security stanchion ropes. They spun laps around the baggage claim carousel, dragging their fingers across the metal plates and making helicopter sounds with their lips. They probably would have tried dragging their lips along it at some point had my wife not been reminding them at two minute intervals that the germs of 1.4 million global passengers were clinging to every visible surface and we were all gonna die if they put those hands in the family snack bag of goldfish crackers one more time. She had like this three gallon jug of that antibacterial alcohol gel stuff strapped to her purse, just hosing down boys, the entire trip.
We then spent two days touring the nation’s capital where the boys touched all 50 flag poles at the Washington Monument, the water in every reflecting pool and fountain at every memorial we visited, and 94% of the iron fence rails surrounding the north lawn of the White House. My wife took the above photo of all three boys dangling halfway up the White House fence. I was blending in with a Japanese tour group and acting like I didn’t know those crazy American children.
Washington D.C. has more of those metal and cement traffic barrier pillars than any other city on the planet – we walked by 3,740. The boys touched 3,698 of them, most of the time while racing in zigzag patterns to see who could touch the most, the fastest. They would have touched the other 42 but we put a stop to it after a collision busted up two of their heads and caused us to miss seeing the presidential motorcade come blazing through town by about two minutes. Perhaps they were evacuating the President after reviewing the north lawn fence climbing incident. With boys this is entirely possible.
It really matters not if you’re strolling down a major city sidewalk or a quiet forest trail, all boys want to do is drag their hands along and touch stuff. The worst place ever is in a store. I had four-year-old Nicholas with me in Wal-mart one day, holding him by one hand in an attempt at damage control that only made things worse. He looked like a kid with some sort of strange lunging disorder, hurling himself and his one free hand at every end cap product display. Why? To cop a feel of assorted shower loofahs, of course. Spark plugs, canned tuna, it doesn’t matter. Boys have to put their hands on it at any cost.
Do not try to fight this, and keep boys from touching all the things. You will lose. You can, however, ask my wife where to get that germ-killing alcohol gel in bulk. You’re gonna need a lot of it.