The Zen of
When I was young, naïve, and childless,
I used to look at toddlers with runny noses and wonder why someone
didn't DO something
about it. It looked so awful and so messy. Yuck.
Now that I have a toddler of my own, I understand.
My 15-month-old daughter wants nothing to do with me or anyone
else touching her nose. She'll put up with having her face washed
off after dinner, sometimes. But when she recently developed
a runny nose as the result of a cold, I saw what sort of resistance
she was really capable of.
It started out with her just waving my hands away and turning
her head. Before long, she was struggling and crying. The mere
sound of me pulling the tissue from the box was enough to set
off the tears. If I managed to get close enough to her face to
wipe away the accumulation on her upper lip, the crying provided
a fresh supply.
Heaven forbid that I should take out the nasal aspirator, a.k.a.
the dreaded snot-sucker. I only attempted to use it once when
it looked as if she could use the assistance. I know I would
have appreciated the help had I been in her shoes. She didn't
see it that way. The way she carried on, you would have thought
I was trying to cut off her foot with a bread knife. I'm surprised
no one called the police to investigate the piercing screams.
When I reported my trouble to other more experienced moms, I
was given several suggestions. Use petroleum jelly on her upper
lip and nose to keep it from chapping. Try a warm washcloth instead
of a tissue. Use a humidifier to ease congestion. Sneak up from
behind her and just get the job done as quickly as you can.
I tried all of the above suggestions and it never got any easier.
I even resorted to just whisking it off with my own finger a
time or two. That, of course, was my least favorite option but
the one she objected to least.
I'm working hard on developing the Zen-like attitude of other
veteran moms. Just let it go, leave it be. It'll all come out
in its own time -- literally. There are more important battles
to be fought. Like I said, I'm trying hard, but her cold cleared
up before I completely achieved the tranquil calm I was seeking.
I'm not sure I'll be able to maintain my cool in the face of
her snot the next time around.
The irony is, of course, now that her cold is gone, she holds
the tissue up to her face and pretends to blow. Sigh...
Jennifer Ismail is a
stay at home mom and freelancer who enjoys writing lighthearted
essays from her personal experiences. Her work has appeared
in her local paper as well as several parenting sites. She
can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org