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Bob O’Connor: Visiting with toddlers is hazardous to health

My granddaughter is going to be the death of me – literally. She is sweet and cute and all that, but she plays host to every virus and bacteria known to man. Less than 2 years old and probably 35 pounds, she is a magnet for deadly toxins. At her age, everything she comes in contact with gets handled, examined and tasted. There is nothing too vile for a toddler to put in her mouth. She has more biological weapons in one little hand than Saddam Hussein had in an entire country.

I, as the warm and cuddly grandpa, am the repository for all this pestilence; I am the target of her infections. She loves to put her little arms around me and give me puppy-like kisses. She is a human petri dish and I have no resistance. My little Typhoid Mary rarely gets sick herself, but has passed along the avian flu, the swine flu, the stomach flu and the Asian flu. I have endured a summer cold, an autumn cold and a winter cold. Are cradle cap and diaper rashes next?

The other day, she climbed on my lap and snuggled her face into my chest like a guinea pig in a pile of wood chips. I was feeling that wonderful grandfatherly love when my daughter said: “Dad, you know she is wiping her nose on your sweater, right?”

I suppose this is a natural process; the very young take out the old. It is a thinning of the herd; a kind of passive euthanasia wherein death arrives in a Polly Flinders dress rather than a black robe.

You often read obituaries about a man or woman who died of “natural causes” at the age of 106. What they don’t tell you is that the poor soul got a visit from her great-great-grandkids the week before. Some runny nosed 5-year-old took out Nana with one hug.

I remember a time when young children were not allowed in hospitals and nursing homes because they were known disease carriers. Now you see them everywhere. Is this some sort of conspiracy? Have death squads of preschoolers been sent out to reduce the population of golden-agers in some sick scheme to save Social Security?

Scientists cannot account for the fact that the life expectancy for America’s older generations is dropping for the first time in our history. I offer just one word: grandchildren. These disease ninjas lurk in America’s nurseries, preschools and Dairy Queens. This sniveling horde of little imps is decimating the Greatest Generation, and we baby boomers are now in their sights.

I’ve read that President Ronald Reagan was concerned that Earth would one day face a galactic invasion by a bunch of saucer-eyed, gray-skinned aliens; that was the real reason behind the so-called Star Wars initiative to build a shield over the globe. I have a cheaper solution: send my granddaughter and a half dozen other wet pants of mass destruction to meet with the extraterrestrials. The aliens will all be dead from the croup in three days.

Don’t misunderstand, I love my little granddaughter and I am willing to risk an early death in order to play with her. Although she coughs and sneezes in my face, puts food she doesn’t like from her mouth directly into mine and uses my pants and shirts as baby wipes, she is the only one in the world who thinks I’m smart.

I adore her and she adores me. My own children say that’s just because she doesn’t know me well enough to dislike me like they do. Cute.