Noah has been working lately on not eating his boogers. And by working on it, I mean that he’s working on doing it more discretely. And by more discretely, I mean he doesn’t care at all. No matter how much I beg, warn, threaten, plea, or ask, he shoves his finger up his nose whenever he feels like it and munches on whatever tasty morsel attaches to it.
This, of course, disgusts Dad who gets very sick, very easily, at the sight of other people’s boogers. And when I get another person’s booger on me … well, it’s all over. Such instances are at least semi-decadal, always freakish by nature, and when it happens, I become absolutely paralyzed. I dry-heave while trying not to ralph my lunch onto whoever or whatever happens to be in my path.
Anyway, Noah’s little habit has gotten bad lately. And so, I’ve been getting on his case every time I see him with his finger in his nose. If I have to watch one more booger go into his mouth, I may lose it. “Everybody picks their nose,” I tell him. “But you’ve gotta do it in the bathroom where nobody can see you, and you’ve gotta put it in a tissue, not in your mouth.” He always chirps back, “Okay!” so innocently. And then he usually digs immediately back in for more.
I don’t know how I’m going to break him of the habit, but I’m determined to.
In the meantime, I’ve gotta find a way to survive it.
Sunday night, we were at a big family gathering. We were standing around before dinner while my dad introduced all the visitors to us regulars. I was holding Noah, and in the middle of it all, his finger went knuckle-deep into his nose at the same time that he locked guilty eyes with me.
My lips tightened and I gave him a look that said: “Tissue. Bathroom. Now.”
While keeping his eyes glued to mine, he slowly pulled a green slimy booger out of his nose. “Noah, that’s disgusting.” I stammered as my stomach clenched-up on me. “Don’t you dare eat it. Go wipe it on something appropriate, right now.”
His eyes were still locked on mine and he cracked a tiny, mischievous grin. Then, it happened.
He reached his little finger out, the one with the green slimy booger on it, and he wiped it across the length of my MOUTH.
“What are you doing?! Go get in uh-oh!” I angrily whispered through a tiny crack in my mouth as I set him down and pushed him toward the doorway of the kitchen. He knew he’d crossed a serious line, and he slinked away without the slightest bit of arguing.
There was too big a crowd to let my dry heaves surface, so I found myself choking down a heavy dose of puke while I discreetly reached out for a dirty napkin on the countertop. I frantically wiped the booger away, fighting the ever-burgeoning sickness in my stomach.
I pulled the napkin away and studied the green delight within. More vomit attempted an exit. More superhuman strength kept it at bay.
I got a new napkin and wiped at the site of assault once again. The residue of the booger was still there, on my lips, on my chin, on my cheeks. Somehow in my mind it had spread across my entire face.
The dry napkin didn’t do it. So I grabbed a paper towel, wet it, then wiped again, all the while trying not to draw attention to myself within the crowd.
I finally believed that the booger and its nastiness was gone, and I let myself breathe normally again. My mom’s famous baby back ribs suddenly didn’t seem so great anymore.
I exited the kitchen and found Noah sitting against the hallway wall, sheepish and worried. “Are you ready to tell me why you’re in uh-oh?” I asked. It’s how we end every uh-oh.
Mumble mumble mumble.
“Noah, why did you have to have an uh-oh?”
He looked at me with worried eyes, afraid to tell me of his infraction for fear of further repercussion. He knew of my strong feelings about boogers.
“You have to tell me if you want to get out of uh-oh.”
He scrunched up his nose. “Because I wiped my booger on your face.”
“And I’m sorry.”
Usually this is the point I drop the issue, but this time I decided to leave him with a heavy warning for the future.
“Noah, if you ever pick your nose and wipe your booger on my face again, you’re gonna get a lot more than an uh-oh. Got it?”
“Got it,” he said and then he disappeared toward the dinner table.
Then, I had to start laughing at my threat. They were words, after all, that I never thought I’d have to say to my kid.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
P.S. Dare I ask? Do you have a funny booger story? Do your kids have a pick and eat or a pick and wipe problem?