By Meghan Peterson
As we greet our country’s national holiday of gratitude, Thanksgiving, I chronicle another chapter in the continuing saga of my children’s developmental milestones. I am grateful for these milestones. These milestones – and my sons who enact them – are a constant source of humor. For this, I am thankful.
In the context I am about to describe, development is not lofty. It is not that my sons are reciting their alphabet or informing me the difference between a hexagon and octagon (although, older Boy is doing these things). It is not that my sons are walking and running or kicking the soccer ball (although, older Boy is doing these things and younger Boy is toddle-walking). No. The development I reference here is entitled, “the case of the nose-picking.”
The phase of booger-obsession has arrived, ladies and gentlemen. I am clearing breakfast dishes. I turn around to see older Boy with his finger shoved ¾ of the way to his brain. He grins as he does so. I then look to see little Boy emulating his brother in similar fashion. While attempting to disguise my belly laugh as a cough, I chastise my boys for engaging in such behavior. I explain to them that both the practice and optics of booger-selection are rude.
Explanation occurs through a series of rhetorical questions. Would you do this in your Little Tikes car? Would you do this at favorite park with your friends? Would you do this in front of your friends’ mommies? Would you do this in front of your favorite librarians? If the answer to these inquiries is “no,” then why do it in front of The Mommy? If the answer is likewise “no,” then the why is located in this simple maxim: nose-picking is rude. Differently stated, nose-picking would constitute an action “lacking refinement or delicacy,” if we apply Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition (one of multiple meanings rude connotes).
Yet, I do not want to eviscerate completely the intuition in my boys to be quirky and fun. For American founding father John Adams instructs us, “[b]e not intimidated…not suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.” In other words, what I ought to say is this: stop the nose-picking, but do not stop being the freedom-loving, growing boys that you are. Put another way, channel that energy into a different activity, just not nose-picking.
In life’s greater scheme, consequences of rudeness pale in comparison to other acts, such as restricting people’s liberties in the name of safety and protection – like tyranny and totalitarianism can only offer. There are numerous things in this life that move beyond rudeness and render it a petty concern in comparison, such as absolutism over one’s autonomy to think, speak and move freely in society.
Keeping these thoughts in mind, this mommy hopes to remedy the rudeness of my boys’ nose-picking without undermining the fundamental “child” component in childhood. I may fail countless times in so doing, but my hope is that I – and my rascal boys – will be thankful I tried. Boogers and all.