Very few people know what a "Clida" is, but everyone knows one. It is a new word I made up, and in the future it may be found in Webster's.

In my career as a family medicine doctor, I have delivered hundreds of babies and taken care of thousands of sick kids. Patients always asked me why I never got sick. The simple answer is hand washing. In the first 30 years of practice, I missed only a handful of days of work. In the last eight years, I have called in sick many more times than the previous 30. This is due to these Clidas.

I currently have four of them, and another one is on the way! If you haven't figured it out yet, Clida stands for "Cute little infectious disease agent," aka a grandchild. When you are first exposed to these cute, snot-dripping, coughing, vomiting, diarrheal agents is when they visit or you visit. They always greet with a kiss and hug, instantly infecting you.

If you think you are safe because they may have no symptoms, think again. They harbor the bugs just to share with you. And to top it off, I have heard my daughter say to the Clidas when first greeting me after an absence to kiss grandpa on the lips. I then saw her give me that "remember when you did not give me more monthly stipend for beer in college" smirk.

I have suffered through sinus infections, step throat, influenza and noroviruses. This last Christmas season was a classic. I visited them a week before Christmas, and of course grandpa got Clided. This was in the form of a nasty cold. Just as I was starting to feel better, one of them came for the holidays and gave me a norovirus, otherwise known as the stomach flu.

They are all gone now, and I have fully recovered. However, for some reason, I can't wait to see the little Clidas again.

Dr. Tom Polovitz lives in East Gull Lake, Minn.