Sunday, February 15, 2009

Boogers, snot, and mucus; the childhood "triple threat."

I’ve spent the better part of the past two weeks watching my baby daughter perform magic tricks with her nose. (No, this isn't her. But I feel this parent's pain.) Every year February hits, and I’m crossing my fingers and legs that our family doesn’t get hit with the winter crud, but inevitably, everyone seems to come down with some version of the latest and greatest cold.

As a rule, my youngest daughter’s body tends to manifest colds and viruses in the form of fevers, ranging anywhere from four to ten days. I’m used to these fevers, know how to deal with them, and even keep a fever journal. It’s not uncommon for my daughter’s viral fevers to hit 105 degrees. I usually wait 72 hours, before taking her in, only to have our pediatrician tell me to “continue piggy backing Tylenol and Motrin, and come back in about 6 days if her fever hasn’t broken.” Well, okay. I can do that. The last time I brought my daughter in for her well visit, he asked me about her fevers.
“So, it looks like here (reading her chart) that she hasn’t had one of her fevers since November.”
“No, actually, she had another fever bout in December. It got up to 106,” I replied.
“You mean 100.6? Or 106? That’s a huge difference,” my pediatrician stated, with a tinge of worry on his face.
“No, 106,” I told him. “I just kept giving her Tylenol and Motrin, like we usually do.”
“Okay,” he starts off. “I know you’re used to dealing with her high fevers, but when it hits 106, we really should take a look at her,” he told me, incredulously. As I was leaving the office I overheard him telling another pediatrician, “…her child had a fever of 106, and she didn’t bring her in because she is so used to dealing with them…” laced with can-you-believe-this tone. Okay, point taken. Apparently there is a limit to how hot your child is allowed to be.

I mention this little episode, because until two weeks ago, my youngest had yet to catch the common cold, typical of every little person from birth to ten. Which is why I was so unprepared to deal with her nose. She didn’t sleep 24 hours a day like her feverish episodes. She’s in a quandary about whether to breath or suck on her binky, and at her very young age, has managed to create a hybrid system where she can do both. It’s suck-suck-suck-suck-BREATHE-uhh-BREATHE-uhh-suck-suck-suck-suck-BREATHE-uhh-BREATHE-uhhh. The binky’s enveloped in a web of snot, and she’s up, running around, leaving a slime trail all over the house.

One minute she’s playing with her toys, face clean as you please, and the next I look over and her head is a glistening pool of mucus. She’s got a snotty nose that could rival the best stereotypic-diaper-clad-trailer-park-two-year-old in winter. She was making some magnificent sounds the other day, until I looked over and found that the snot was bubbling around her vibrating lips, lending a new instrumentation that-while grotesque-was oddly pleasing. Curious to hear more, but feeling the mom-guilt stab at me, I grabbed for the tissue and put and end to her melody, but silently wondered what the rest of her opus would have sounded like.

In addition to her musical talents, she also performs a version of the rainbow-handkerchief-up-the-sleeve trick, wherein I’ll wipe her nose, and there’s a long string of booger that refuses to give in. I’m pulling-wiping-pulling-wiping, and it’s changing colors; it’s blue, now red, here comes the green one, next is yellow, and finally after pulling-and-wiping and changing tissues five times to no avail, I relent and break the dammed booger off, leaving the stringy end in her nose to be pulled again at a later date.

If it’s not the stringy booger trick, it’s the “where’s the slug?” trick. You’ve all seen this one; that thick yellow slug-booger slowly inches its way down the upper lip and just before you lean in for the kill, SUCK! its gone again. You wait, staring at your toddler’s nose for the booger-slug to emerge. Seconds later, there it is... the nasty little creature slimes it’s way out and down the lip, but you’re ready this time, you’ve almost got the fleshy booger in your grasp, and SUCK! it disappears. At this point I really want to yell at my 20-month-old daughter to “QUIT SUCKING IT IN!” but she’s running now, with the slug on her lip, and a new slug emerges, sitting-bitch to the next one, both going for a joy ride on my daughter’s face while she laughs and runs in the opposite direction from me. You can faintly hear those slug boogers chanting, “You can’t catch us, we’re the booger-slug men!” I finally trap my daughter in her room, coming after her with fifteen tissues, and find her “hiding” from me on her sister’s bed. “Hiding,” for my toddler, consists of covering her eyes and putting her face down so she can’t see you. Never mind she’s standing there in the middle of the room in plain sight. I make it over to her only to find…you guessed it. Dead slug-booger carcass all over her sister’s sheets. Lovely.

In fact, one doesn’t need to step too far into my home to see the slimy, gelatinous, mucus remnants from my daughter. There’s sticky residue on the light switches she reaches to click-on-click-off-click-on-click-off, there are clear stripes marking her place at the table, and of course the back of her chair where she pulls herself up. Clear dried residue from cheek to ear. Tacky little fingers encased in lint and dirt, from wiping her nose and playing on the carpet. At the height of the snot infestation, I would get her up in the morning to find a crusty, yellow conglomeration sealing the nostrils almost totally shut, save for two small air holes; looking like someone tried to paper mache a mask on her over night. The dried nose crust is the worst to try and remove. At some point in all our lives, we’ve tried to pop that little nose zit or black head, the one that makes your eyes water just contemplating, the one that you swear you’re going to let fester, because you cannot bear the pain of getting rid of it. I’m trying to figure which would hurt less; peeling the booger crustacean off with a putty knife? Chipping away at it with my pinky-nail? Trying to steam it off, with a humidifier and towel? Either way there is going to be screaming. My daughter is not going to be too happy about it either.

I’d like to know if anyone has ever thought of trying to harvest childhood mucus. My daughter’s yellow-ooze is so sticky I have a million uses for it at home. Hanging wallpaper, is one thing that comes to mind. Gluing the broken head on my Willow Tree figurine, is another. The kid’s many paper projects. Christmas crafts. Heck, I bet with enough snot, you could even use it as an adhesive under your laminate flooring. Forget super glue! Hot glue is so 90’s! Go “green” and repurpose your child’s infectious mucus. Imagine how much money you could save, if you follow the mantra, “Reduce, reuse recycle.”

But how to harvest the slime? A bucket around my child’s head, while cost-effective, seems a tad abusive and would get in the way of nap and bed times, which are prime booger-collecting opportunities. No doubt we’ve all got that classic blue bulb-syringe hanging around somewhere in the house. The standard-issue hospital parting gift, for dropping a few thousand at their facility to give birth to your baby. I love the fact that everyone gets one of these syringes, (which are sooo much more useful than, say diapers would be) and yet the pediatrician always tells you not to use them. My kids always had more fun using it as a teether (it can get way in the mouth for those back teeth cuttings) than I ever did trying to suck snot from their nose. We’ve all been there, one spouse trying to hold the child’s thrashing head still in vice-like grip, the other parent trying to keep the bottom of the bulb compressed while attempting not to give their child an accidental frontal-lobotomy cramming said bulb up child's very small nostril. No... decidedly, NOT effective.

I came upon the Nosefrida Nasal Aspirator, while doing a Google search on boogers. (It’s always amazing what you come up with when you Google such words.) This device actually has a mucus-catching reservoir, which would be perfect if you’re trying to use your child’s snot as family glue. Basically, you stick the reservoir end into the child’s nose, place the end of the tube in your own mouth, and then suck your child’s boogers right out their little nasal cavity. Don’t worry, you won’t get the salty mess in your mouth, thanks to the snot-trap at the end of the reservoir. Really, they’ve thought of everything. With only a $15 dollar investment, think how much snot you could harvest during a standard cold and flu season: 1 nose aspirator + 3 sick children= unlimited booger glue possibilities. Priceless.


brandie said...


Megan Rose said...

So funny- but in the famous words of Grandma Stone "I got a pain in my bottom" because it was so gross. I am also have some residual chills.

Rachel said...

Yes, my stomach hurt a little too, after posting it. Especially thinking about using the Nosefrida Aspirator. Do you think the air that you suck in from the tube tastes like boogers? Booger air? Is it salty like being by the ocean?

Ginger said...

This little Nosefrida is the best gadget ever invented, I give them as
shower gifts, usually the parents-to-be are grossed out at the sight
of it, and then three months later they call in the middle of the
night thanking me profusely for giving them the only gift that they
really ever needed.... They should be giving them away at the
hospitals instead of the useless bulb!

Rachel said...

I'm so glad an actual user of the Nosefrida contraption weighed in! Thanks! I've never used one myself, and frankly didn't know they existed until I googled boogers. Where's the marketing department for this product? ;)At $15 bucks a pop, you'd think the hospitals would be able to afford this parting gift instead. Thanks again for your feedback!