Sage, JD, a lovely dinner guest, and I all sit together at the dinner table.  Sage tries to shove a blueberry up her nose. “No blueberries up there” I tell her. “It isn’t safe.” She pauses a moment and then tries for another one, this time with great force. “No.” I say putting more power behind the word. She pauses. She puts down the blueberry. Then, staring me in the eyes, she sticks her finger up her nose. “Yes,” I cheer, grateful for the fact that she has abandoned the blueberry, “Fingers are fine.” A few minutes later she picks up a piece of chicken sausage and has another go at her nose. “No” says JD. “No” I echo. “No food up there, only fingers.” JD sticks his own finger up his nose to demonstrate “Like this” he says. I join in. Then, reluctantly, as if not wanting to derail this parenting moment, the dinner guest does too.  We all sit there with our fingers up our noses. “Only fingers” we chant together. She takes it all in. She puts down the sausage. She shoves her finger up her nose like an obedient daughter who does not want to disappoint. We gaze at her proudly.

As we sit there, a multigenerational nose-picking bunch, I think to myself, “we are going to have to undo this lesson…”

This is not the first lesson that will need to be undone. I am actually amassing quite a list of ill-conceived teachable moments.

Like the other day… In my continued efforts to wean my daughter I offer the occasional bribe.  We lay in bed and she wailed as I tried to explain that there would be no more boobie for the afternoon.  She looked so sad and desperate and I felt so guilty for denying her that I said, “Well, there is no boobie… BUT…I have boobie chocolate!!”  She immediately stopped crying and looked up at me with these hopeful eyes.  “Yes, boobie chocolate” she yelped in delight, “Yes, yes!” I proceeded to take her into the kitchen and introduce her to my secret stash of holiday candy.  Now when I say “no boobie” she responds wistfully… “Boobie chocolate…?” Occasionally, in my weaker moments, I oblige.

Or there was the very stupid move I made when trying to get Sage to hurry out the back door so that we could make it to sing-along on time.  I stood at the top of the stairs and said, “run to mommy”.  Obediently she ran straight for me. Now when she sees me at the top of a staircase she shouts, “Run to mommy” and begins charging towards the staircase. The other day she ran towards me as I was halfway down the stairs. “STOP” I had to callout in utter horror. And then with equal horror, I thought to myself, “I taught her to do  this.” Now I clutch her with both arms every time we are anywhere near the stairs. “No running” I say in fear.

There is also the epic story of “Fuckin’ Christ” (read the “Watch you Mouth” post for chapter one of that tale). I have come to realize that she associates this phrase with tense moments in the car. SO when we get cut off or stop short at a light she asks, “You say Fuckin’ Christ mommy?”

“No I tell her. Mommy doesn’t say Fuckin’ Christ.”

“Fuckin’ Christ!” she yells as if doing me the favor of saying it for the both of us. Now when we go to the neighborhood gym which is full of ride-on toys like CARS she climbs in and starts pedaling her feet and shouting “ Fuckin’ Christ” like that is something you say in order to make a car go.

In looking back at this list (and this is really and truly just on small portion of the list) I feel like I should probably make a little timeline for “undoing”. First I should prioritize. The stair thing has got to be number one. If I don’t undo that one quickly my child may end up with a serious injury. Number two will have to be Fuckin’ Christ because sooner or later she is going to say it in the wrong crowd, and then I might end up with a serious injury. Then I think I’d have to rank boobie chocolate as the next priority because my daughter’s health is right up there with her safety and replacing nursing with chocolate is just plain bad news.  So that leaves nose picking as the lowest priority.  Because really nose picking does not become an issue till middle school when someone decides it’s gross and spreads the word and then anyone found nose picking gets labeled a social pariah. I certainly don’t want this for Sage but up against tumbling down a staircase, overdosing on sugar, and being charged with blasphemy I take nose picking. At least for now…

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