A couple of nights ago Dallas and I took the girls to a pet store to waste time before bed.Â Brooke happily wandered the store squealing in delight at the puppies and the fish and shrieking in disgust at the snakes and the lizards.
After her third lap around the store, she noticed the bubble gum dispenser near the check-out desk.Â Quickly, she got on all fours and started playing with the trap door opening and closing it in the hopes that this time a gumball would magically appear.Â When that didn’t work she said, “Mom!Â I want gumball.Â You have money?”
I thought back to everything Brooke had just touched:Â fish tanks, fish water, bird cages, pet food, dog toys, pet carriers, the floor, and finally, the bubble gum trap door.Â How many other kids had done just the same thing with their grimy hands?
The answer was easy; I said, “No Brooke.Â We don’t have any money for gumballs today,” but what I was really thinking was, “There is absolutely no way any child of mine will EVER eat a gumball that we’ve purchased from a pet store.”Â Involuntary shuddering occurred next.
Just as we were turning away, I heard a woman say, “Here.Â Here’s a quarter for her.”
“Oh, no, that’s okay…”Â I stammered.
“No really.Â Take it.”
I prompted Brooke to thank the woman, and I gave her a very sincere, “You shouldn’t have.”Â Brooke deposited the quarter in the machine and watched the gumball spiral down to the door.Â I swooped down to get the gumball before it had a chance to fall on the floor (did I mention there were mealworms in a box on the floor nearby?).Â As I held the gumball, I realized it wasÂ somewhat of a large choking device for my two-year old.Â With the stranger watching on, I swallowed, heaved a sigh, and bit into the gumball.Â I gave Brooke half of it and forced myself to chew the rest.
Brooke hummed her delight at the taste of the gum.Â The woman stood nearby beaming at her.Â And I tried not to think about all of the germs we were being exposed to at that very moment.
You can’t get rabies from a gumball, right?