Saturday, November 20, 2010

What Is & Is Snot Appropriate For Sharing

Shame has its place in life. It keeps you from making a fool out of yourself. It prevents you from running naked through the streets. It gives you pause enough to second guess wearing that skin-tight shirt out to the movies. Shame helps you avoid scorn for still playing Dungeons & Dragons every Saturday night. It keeps your mouth shut before you admit you DVR Dancing With the Stars.

Of course hiding such things could be giving way to societal pressure. Not proudly admitting your personality quirks for fear of being teased can be seen as giving in to bullying. For instance, I read of a little girl recently who was teased and bullied for liking Star Wars when it was seen as something for boys. This makes me sad and is definitely not behavior I want to encourage in my sons.

I teach my sons to be themselves. I want to make them proud of whom they are and respect who others choose to be. My wife and I encourage them to share their talents. We want them to be unafraid to speak their minds. We have taught them not to apologize for being smart, not to judge a book by its cover, to stand up for their friends and to enjoy the things that they enjoy regardless of who else enjoys them. They are not to give in to peer pressure. Creativity and a healthy dose of authority questioning (as long as it isn’t mine) are respected.

Despite our household’s conformity be damned attitude, there remains a use for shame. We are not in the Garden of Eden. The fruits of the tree of knowledge have already been devoured by our species. There’s no turning back. So, despite their obvious inclination to roam completely free, my six and seven year old are not to run through the house naked. After a shower, they need to keep a towel around themselves or bring their pajamas into the bathroom with them. Especially while company is over. I’m glad that we have created a home that they obviously feel very comfortable in, but some humility is needed in this situation.

A quality even more horrifyingly in need of some shame is their apparent pride in the contents of their nostrils. My sons seem to be immensely proud of their boogers. They aren’t so much proud of the picking aspect, as they’ve learned to do this only while they think nobody is looking. Once the prize is obtained, however, they seem to like to put them on display. No discreetly using a tissue, flicking them into the garbage or wiping them on the bottom of a piece of furniture where they are likely never to be seen until we move to another house. These two like to show their creations off.

The occasional one ends up on a wall of the stairway. “What is that?” I wonder out loud as I lean in for a closer look, prepared to scold the dog for unwittingly rubbing an eye crust or particularly thick line of drool on the wall. Then, just after I unwisely decide to touch the odd colored smear in question, I realize what it is. “Ewwwww!” Thankfully, it’s usually dried up by then.

The problematic locations for their snot art (snart?) galleries are the places where I rarely happen to look. I don’t often have a reason to sit in the rear seat of the minivan. Had I done so more often, I would have noticed the varied collection on the sliding door panel (on the bright side, the decision to spend a little extra on the leather interior over cloth is finally paying off). Being a big guy, I try to avoid spending time on the upper bunk of my sons’ bunk beds. When I had to squeeze my extra large frame up there to fix the bed sheet, I discovered a multi-colored menagerie of mucus membranes on the wall. I wonder if my son held conversations with them before falling asleep.

So, I’ve tried to keep Kleenex more readily available and I’ve been careful about inspecting suspicious wall markings too eagerly. The boys have been advised that while I can sympathize with those moments when you need to open your airway and don’t have a paper product available, they need to be more discreet about where they leave their…product.

Burps and farts, however, are still fair game to make a display of. Anything that hilarious should be shared, not stifled. Better out than in, make it loud and proud and all that rot.


  1. This post almost made me vomit.

  2. Imagine how I felt trying to scrape them off the wall. They don't want to come off. Then you're afraid of old dry booger shrapnel flying everywhere and, God forbid, in your eye.

    Did I just make it worse?