Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sometimes, It’s the Simple Gifts

If you’ve ever had to wipe the nose of a child, you know that it’s right up there with catching a fly using chopsticks.

Oh, sure, in the first few months, when there’s no head control, it’s pretty easy. A little wiping, maybe a little whining, and you’re all done.

But then your kid develops motion and personality, and suddenly, they have opinions, and in there opinion, getting their nose wiped just isn’t all that much fun. So they fight it.

Sometimes they’ll jerk their head away. Sometimes there’s screaming, kicking, and/or crying.

And sometimes they’ll just give their head a little flick, so that instead of pulling out the errant nose goo, you end up spreading it to other areas of their face, which makes the whole process take even longer while you try to clean off every last bit ‘o gunk.

By the by, a tip for all you parents trying to clean out your kid’s nose. Wait for bath time. Dunk one cotton ball in the water, then “plug” your kid’s nose with it. (This is tough to describe. You know how, when you were a kid, you’d take your hand and hold your nose and then jump into the pool? Do it like that.) This moistens up all the crusty stuff. Do this one or two more times, and generally your cotton ball will come away with at least one glob of something you’d rather not think about too much.

I should warn you, however, that there may be more stuff that slowly creeps out over the course of the bath – so be prepared with an extra cotton ball or two. Or just use the washcloth on their nose one last time before pulling ‘em out of the bath.

Luckily for me, over the last couple of months, Mihret has finally come to realize that if she just complies when the tissues come out, things will go a lot easier and she will be able to return to playing if she just lets me mop her up right away. Sometime in the last few weeks, I presented her with a tissue, and she tipped her nose forward as if to say, “Okay, but make it quick.”

And then today, well. Today was magical. She was all dressed, and ready to face the day, except… well, her hair had to be done.

Mihret does not enjoy this process. She does not enjoy it one little bit. She wails and screams and sometimes she even manages to get one tiny little crocodile tear out. It is the four minutes of the day she dislikes the most.

I need to back up just a touch in the day, to the moment I looked up her nose. If you have kids, you’ll recognize the magic of the inside of a kid’s nostril. If you glance at one, and you’ll see a tiny bit of crust, and you’ll grab a tissue and swipe, and the next thing you know… you’ve discovered that the crust was merely the tip, and you have pulled out an iceberg.

And that’s what happened here. I fixed Mihret’s hair, I washed my hands, and when I went to retrieve the wee one from Kara, she noted that a wad of gunk had shot out of her nose. So I grabbed the toddler and she grabbed a tissue, and moments later, one nostril was clean.

“She’s got stuff in the other one,” said Kara.

I debated for a second. The contents of a nose that isn’t on your face can be hard, and sometimes impossible, to retrieve. Sometimes they come out in seconds. Sometimes it takes minutes. And sometimes, all your hard work results in shoving what must come out farther into the cave it tried to escape from.

“Meh. Not worth it,” I replied. “I need to get to work.”

And then? Mihret sneezed. And the contents of nostril number two dislodged, and moved out of her nose to the area above her upper lip.

“Tissue?” I said to Kara. She handed me one, and with a single swipe (followed by a quick check for residue) her nose was completely clear.

Such a small thing, really, but when you’re racing through the house trying to clothe and otherwise make respectable a human being who doesn’t yet understand the wonders of a toilet, well… small victories.


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