Why your kids will french kiss the dog but not share a water bottle.

Posted on August 22, 2012


Don't get germs on my mud pie

Welcome to this week’s instalment of WTF Wednesday, where we have all the answers…as long as we have access to Google. Well, also, we’ll need the Internet parental controls turned off. Oh, and leave the password so we can delete the Web browsing history when we’re done.

Today, for the first time here at Advice Central, we’re answering a question posed by a previous poser.

OK, that didn’t come out right.  This person has already had a question answered.

Why, when we get a thousand questions each week (give or take about 998), would we answer two questions from the same person? Because she’s asked about 100 questions (give or take 94). You could look at it in one of two ways: 1) she’s absolutely desperate for great parenting advice and we’re providing a valuable service for a person in need, or 2)  if we don’t answer another one, we might continue to be pummelled with them until the server is crushed under the weight of a bazillion unanswered questions. Plus, her questions are funny.

So today’s question comes from Gina Valley (@GinaValley via Twitter, also to be found at GinaValley.com). She writes:

Dear Barmy,

Why will my kids let the dog lick them in the mouth but refuse to take a sip from a water bottle their brother or sister touched?

The answer is evolution.

If I remember my basic biology correctly, organisms with traits that give them a greater probability of surviving to reproduce tend to pass those traits on to their offspring. In that way, the good traits are passed on and the bad ones die out with the people who possess them. You may have noticed that this rule doesn’t apply to politicians and people in the entertainment industry.

Your kids will french kiss the dog but not share a water bottle. To understand this apparent paradox, we need to take a closer look at what makes these behaviours so important to the survival of young siblings. That means going way back in evolutionary time.

It’s lucky for you that I have expertise in this area; my mother in law has told many stories of what it was like back when people lived in caves and speared mammoths for food and clothing.

You see, back then, there were no pet dogs but there were sabre-toothed tigers. And when a sabre-toothed tiger wants to lick you in the lips you have two choices: let it, or try and stop it. Needless to say, those who chose to try and stop it generally failed to live long enough to reproduce.

Of course, those who allowed the tiger to lick them usually got eaten, too.

But those kids who still had mammoth juice all over their faces from dinner AND allowed the tiger to lick them quickly became the tigers’ new best friends.

I’m guessing here, but you may have noticed that your children often have the remains of their last meal smeared around their mouth. I’ve heard that can happen (in other people’s households, not mine, of course). Yes, that’s right, smearing food all over one’s face and allowing the pet to lick it are two parts of the same survival mechanism. Please keep this in mind next time you try to snuff out thousands of years of human evolution with a damp napkin.

As for why your kids won’t drink out of the same bottle, well that’s just plain gross.

Problem solved! You’re welcome.