Picking One's Nose in Public

This post should be sub-titled: How I Helped My Daughter Win Gold in the 2020 Summer Olympics.

I’ve taught my daughter to pick her nose.  She’s a quick learner.  I have not taught her the difference between public and private.  So she picks her nose in private.  And, from time to time, in public.

This raises a host of concerns for me.  For starters, where is the mommy manual on what to call snot?  Is there a polite non-baby-talk term?  My quiz question would look something like this:

1.  A synonym for “snot”

A) Boogie

B) Booger

C) Mucus

D) Dust and Environmental-toxin Encrusted Desicated Nasal Clumps

The correct answer?  Aw, come on.  Let me cheat off of your paper.  Please!

I’m pretty sure I can’t say “Boogie” and keep a straight face.  As for “Mucus,” I’d be shunned out of any play group I may be invited to attend.  I mean, can you picture it?  ”Come here, Little Friend.  I need to wipe your mucus” {Insert finger lick and nose swipe here}.  Not likely.  That leaves option D (um, no), so we’ll move right back to B) Booger.  That’s what we’re going with around my house.  Lots and lots of boogers.

Boogers at breakfast.

Boogers at lunch.

Boogers that whistle unseen in the dark.

It’s the whistlers that really get me.  As long as I don’t look up Little Friend’s nose, or catch glimpses of those boogers that cling to the entrance of her nasal caves like determined spelunkers, I can most days rein in my obsessive compulsive need to flush out her sinuses.  But the whistlers are another matter.  When Little Friend has a clog covering 98% of a nostril, she emits a soft, effusive “Ftweet” with each. and. every. breath.

I give myself lectures on keeping my hands to myself.  I have a very stern self-lecturing voice.  I listen to it approximately 62% of the time.

Little Friend has developed an impressive repertoire of Judo blocks when she sees my hands approaching her face.  Really, she’s on the defensive any time I’ve tracked into the upper hemisphere of her body.  She can even sense the sneak attacks that start outside of her peripheral vision, somewhere back behind her ears.  At two years old, she is already annoyed with her mother.

I love her independence.  Here I am, offering to help her out of the deep love of my heart (because where else could the urge to pick someone else’s nose come from?), and she prefers to take a step into her personhood and tackle the problem herself.  After batting aside my generous offer of booger assistance, first she considers her index finger as the correct tool for the job.  Then she has doubts and consults her pinkie.  Probably because I’ve taught her that’s my preferred weapon.  Then she digs in.  Her eyebrows pucker.  The tip of her nose turns red.  She winces a bit.  Then pop, out comes the pinkie.  Then pop, into her mouth it goes.

I’m so proud.

But shouldn’t I be horrified?  What have I created?!

I suppose in the long run I could be doing Little Friend a favor.  All this early Judo practice is sure to take her places.  (Note to self: look into pre-purchasing front row tickets to the 2020 Olympics Judo competition.)

But really, it all comes down to this, this matter of booger patrol.  My ability to deal with (or not deal with) Little Friend’s booger situation could have far-reaching implications.  The mother of today, who absolutely must, MUST, excavate the toddler-hood boogers will become the mother of tomorrow who sounds something like this:

A) You’re going to wear that to school?

B) All of the other little girls are practicing their violins.

C)  Hmmm.  I wouldn’t eat that if I were you.

D)  You want to marry him?

So I could go ahead and guarantee Little Friend a berth at the Olympics.  Or…

…I could ignore the boogers.  I could let her nose go about its olfactory business undisturbed.  I could accept that sometimes she has flakies, and sometimes she has crusties.  Sometimes she has full blockages, and sometimes she produces the drippy ones that appear unannounced on her upper lip.  (Those are the boogers that scare me, like that little kid in the hallway of The Shining.  I mean, where do they come from?!)  I could let her learn the hard way that sometimes Mamas with the absolute best intentions still pass on baggage (like picking one’s nose in public).

I’m going to start ignoring the boogers.  Just as soon as I get this last whistler.  It’s just. right. there…


Beth Hendrickson has held careers in new media marketing and teaching and currently manages the home front.  She writes about all things bright and beautiful in life and motherhood at Belle Squeaks.<


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