I (unwisely) tried to have a discussion with someone yesterday about the Hobby Lobby case. I know the bare bones facts about this case – what little I manage to glean from NPR before Ruby demands to listen to Kesha, basically. So I briefly stated my talking points and then, realizing I was in way over my head, retreated.

Then I thought back to all the things I had debated, with a great deal of actual knowledge, over the past few days, and I got sort of depressed.

Here is what I know a lot about:

1. Washing dishes. My husband and I, like pretty much every married couple I have ever talked to and/or watched on a sitcom, argue about the dishes. He does most of them, and we are lucky enough to have a dishwasher, but he is a particularly zealous pre-washer while I simply rinse off the chunks. I have the New York Times on my side, but he cites Martha Stewart, and arguing over the relative credibility of those two vaunted institutions is more than any marriage can bear, so we have agreed to disagree.

2. Stomach viruses. Normal over-the-counter hand sanitizers do not kill stomach viruses. Antibacterial hand soaps are worthless, too, in terms of being better than normal soap – they kill bacteria, not viruses. If you want to kill a stomach virus with hand sanitizer, you should order online – GermStar Noro or Clorox are the two best brands. If you just want to rely on washing your hands, do so thoroughly, with any kind of soap; warm water (don’t get it scalding – you can’t kill the virus at a temperature that is safe for human skin, so no need to harm your skin; normal warm water is fine); and enough time (20 seconds) to really make a difference. To kill viruses around your house, you should use Lysol spray or Clorox bleach. Normal Clorox wipes won’t kill it, but Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide wipes will. The virus is typically not airborne, although it can be transmitted that way if you are standing very close to someone who vomits. Drinking a glass of red wine a day has been suggested (by no one with any scientific knowledge) as an effective way to avoid getting a stomach virus. This is not true, but it is an effective way to avoid panicking about getting a stomach virus. 

3. Grammar. Someone questioned my use of a hyphen in the phrase “detail-oriented” last week. I grappled with it before I did it that way in my blog, and I am still wrestling with it now, but all apologies to GeGe – whose comment delighted me because I consider grammatical debates the height of fun – I ultimately do think it should be hyphenated because it’s functioning as a predicate nominative. I used to have a T-shirt that said, “Ask me about gerunds,” and I always got extremely excited when someone really would do just that. “It’s a verbal noun!” I would crow. “For example, in the independent clause ‘I love running,’ ‘running’ is a gerund! If, however, I said, ‘I am going to put on my running shoes,’ then running would be a participle, which is a verbal adjective.” I did once have a man who looked to be in his 80s gesture at my shirt and say leeringly, “Hey, sweetie, I’d love to tell you all about my dangling modifier,” and that was pretty horrifying, but overall, I enjoyed the conversations it generated. 

4. Lice. Holy Hannah, do I wish I did not know so much on this subject. But I do. Most parents do. I have gone several rounds with lice over the years – once in day care and once in grade school, and I get notes sent home about school outbreaks at least once a trimester. I know a lot about this subject. I know hair dryers and various sprays can help prevent it. I know over-the-counter chemical treatments only have a success rate of about 40 percent due to increasing resistance. I know extreme cleaning measures are now discouraged, as is use of the aerosol anti-lice spray for upholstery (which I have occasionally been tempted to just spray directly on my child). I know about the Robi-Comb. I know the correct spelling and punctuation of Licefreee! as well as its active ingredient (salt) and its effectiveness compared to chemical treatments (permethrin, specifically). I know about the Cetaphil protocol. I know about the various prescription treatments. I think no-nit policies are silly, but I think this article is a little too laissez-faire. All is really want in the world is to not have to have an opinion on nit policies. And yet, I do. I must. Along with a link to the article linked above, I posted this in the school’s parent Facebook group: “I don't know about this. I do think a no-nit policy is unnecessary, especially because many current treatment protocols (the Cetaphil treatment, Licefreee!, that bazillion dollar prescription medicine) also kill nits. Thoughts? (And good grief, how much do I wish I didn't know all of this? A lot.)” One parent read the article and commented, “Interesting.” And I actually thought, “I know, right? It really is interesting.” And then I came back down to earth with a thud – no, it’s not interesting. It doesn’t interest me at all. It disgusts me, and it affects me, so it sort of has to interest me, but I really, really wish I was blissfully ignorant.

That, and maybe some words of wisdom about cloth diapers or silicone cupcake molds, is really about all I am an authority on these days. I’d say I long for the days when I had strong political convictions, but the truth is that I have never really had strong political convictions. But jeez, I at least used to have opinions on and knowledge of frivolous things that didn’t have to do with parasites and puke. I haven’t seen any TV show that people actually watch in years, so I can’t discuss “True Detective” or “Breaking Bad” or “The Voice” with you – although if you want to talk about “Yo Gabba Gabba” or “Wonder Pets” or “Doc McStuffins,” I am here. 

Is it all worth it? Of course. I love my kids. But regardless of how much I understand about the Hobby Lobby case, I can say, with conviction, that I definitely appreciate the need for birth control.