Tuesday, September 21, 2010

up your nose

every mom has their own personal fears about what their kids will or will not do in their lives.  get arrested, graduate college, change their underwear at least once a week.  i am no different.  one of mine is that i will wind up in the emergency room with my screaming child as a chilly doctor tries to fish out  something small and slippery out of my dear boy's plugged nose.  odd, perhaps.  i attribute this to two main stories i heard around the time i was college. 

one is from my friend- who i will call "jem" cause she IS truly, truly, truly outrageous- whose daughter shoved a rock up her nose.  the little girl, who i will call holly- short for hologram in keeping with the cartoon theme and also cause she is ever changing and alluring like a hologram- was young, maybe 2?  certainly not old enough to understand what was happening.  what i remember is when jem told me how she had to hold down holly while the doctors fished the small stone out of her nostril i shuddered because it encapsulated the essential bitch of parenting: sometimes you have to hurt your kids in ways they don't understand to keep them safe. 

and holly must have just been completely pissed off about the whole thing too.  toddlers try so hard to make sense of this crazy world.  one minute you are at the park noticing the smooth surfaces of these small little worlds you are walking on- the way they crunch under your square feet- and then you are in a bright building with too much white and stinging smells and your mom- YOUR MOM!- who you love and loves you and painted your room blue with white clouds is holding you down while some guy with big eyes shoves something up your nose!  he pulls out the rock you put there to save for later and takes it away.  punk ass adults.  (i think holly still thinks this of adults sometimes).

not long after i heard this one from a professor in my sp ed program.  he explained to us all, as he stood in front of us in his stretch wrangler jeans about a student he had taught years ago.  the young man was non-verbal, maybe somewhere on the autism spectrum- and had several strange behaviors.  this means the folks who could talk weren't quite sure what to say about some of the things he did.  for example, at random moments the young man would vigorously rub his nose with the palm of his hand.  this was described by professionals as "self stimulation" which meant that this was something this man did cause there was so much he couldn't do.

my professor tried several interventions to get this man to stop this.  they did all sorts of behavior modification: here's a candy for not doing it, here's scolding for doing it, here's praise, here's time-out.  they even painted his hand with gross smelling stuff.  nothing worked.

this young man had a doctor's appointment and the talking people decided to do a cat scan of his brain to understand him better.  and viola!  there was a paperclip, quite rusted, up his nose.  once they removed it the young man never did the obvious "i've got something up my nose" hand-rubbing thing again.  turns out he was clearly communicating what he was experiencing but no one was smart enough to notice.

so...you might know where this is going....the other night cyrus starts picking his nose.  i notice some snot, help him blow it, do all the good-mama things and then forget about it.  he persists.  i think "maybe there is something up there" and get dad to get a flash light and look up his nose.  not because i am lazy but because i was laying in bed with stones stuck in my kidneys- although i didn't know that at the time.  dad comments there is some green snot up there and we call it good.

that night when cy wakes me up to nurse he complains again about it- in my daze this hardly registers- but i did wipe his nose with the sheet and he settled down.  again in the morning cyrus mentions his nose, so i send him to his dad.  as ben sits with his coffee at the table he instructs cyrus to "blow!" as he shuts the unoffending nostril.  cyrus wrinkles his face and snorts like a rhino.  there is a sharp sound of something hard bouncing off the wood floor as cyrus propels out the small, round pellet that was lodged in the hole in his nose.  and then he delightfully goes back to playing.

sitting on the couch in stunned silence i thought two things amidst the general feeling of guilt that washed over me- first, i was thankful that i had not seen it the night before.  no doubt, having a parenting fear turn real coupled with my own compromised health- i would have freaked out a bit.  it could have gotten so ugly- me yelling at seren for bringing his pellets in the house, and at ben for buying the stupid pellet gun for seren in the first place as i tried to dislodge the plastic from cy's nose.  me ranting on and on about pellets, and guns, and not knowing when to stop.

i know i am a good person- but i am not always a nice one. 

and then imagine going to the emergency room with a toddler who has a pellet up their nose!  i mean, a rock? sure.  kids play with rocks and that's considered a sign of good parenting.  you take your kids to the park = good mama.  when your 2 year old has a gun pellet up his nose it implies that he was playing with ammo. which, apparently he was.  maybe a call to CPS is in order.  ammo up nose = bad mama.

second, i hadn't really listened very well to my kid's attempt to convey to me that something was different about his nose.  he was persistent with his finger up there and his look of wonder.  the way he laid so still and patiently while i tried to pluck out the boogie i thought was the irritant.  really, his actions were not so different than the young man.  i wonder when that kid had started rubbing his nose- how old he was when the paperclip made it's way up there?  good thing pellets don't rust.

now that the nose is clear, i feel like i dodged a bullet- or maybe a pellet.  one of my parenting fears came true: small child shoves small thing up nose.  and i survived it.  i learned from it.   of course, i wasn't really aware of it until it was all over.  sometimes those are the best lessons.


  1. I think all mamas should keep a list of the little situations their children have been in that, on their own, completely tarnish a parents reputation.

    Your son with a bullet up his nose
    My daughter with no underwear in her preschool class picture
    Your son falling into the freezing cold water of that lake while we take horse lip photos of each other
    My daughter playing with a box cutter on the couch while I try to figure out how to program my VCR

    Everything has cracks. That's how the light gets in. (I didn't write that.. but it's good.. right?)

    I LOVE YOU (and your kidneys too)

  2. Oh and PS... you do know that 'holly' did it again a week later right? But that time I got the rock out myself.

    Just sayin.....