Lisa's Lines

Five-year-old Ellen woke up covered with boogers.

Gobs of goo were dripping out of her nose and a few strands of hair were crusted over and plastered to her cheek, but she was happy and ready for the day.

"Mommy! Get up! I'm hungry!" she hollered before pouncing on me in bed.

She landed on my back, rolled over so she could be face-to-face with me, smiled, then wiped her nose on my pillowcase.

"Oh, honey... Please don't do that. Use a Kleenex," I stated.

Her response: a big old snort, to suck in the remaining goo.

"Gross, Ellen. Don't do that. Use a Kleenex," I uttered for what I knew would be the first of many times that day.

She just smiled, rolled out of bed, and dragged me downstairs for breakfast where the booger saga continued over her bowl of cereal.

"Mommy... (sniff) do I... (snort)... have school... (cough... sputter, sputter...) today?" she questioned.

Considering that I didn't even want to sit next to her, I told her it might be best if she stayed home.

"But, MOM!!! (SNORT) I feel (cough, cough) FINE!" she responded. Ugh.

I used a washcloth to wipe off her face and checked for a fever. She felt fine and was her usual spunky self. Now came the age-old difficult decision... Do I send her to school?

Preschoolers' boogery noses are notorious, and Ellen is a nail biter, so she's constantly putting her fingers in her mouth and contaminating herself with whatever germs happen to be going around her classroom that week. If I kept her at home for every snort, sniffle or goo, she'd never be in class.

I checked my medicine cabinet for a decongestant, but there wasn't anything to stop a drippy nose for a child under six.

So, I sent her to school with her pockets stuffed with Kleenex and strict orders to use her "chicken wing" (a.k.a. inside of her elbow) to sneeze or cough into.

She came home with her pockets stuffed with Kleenex (unused) and large dampened / crusty areas on the forearms of her shirt sleeves. Gross. God bless all preschool teachers.

Nothing compares to a runny-nosed preschooler. Some days, potty training a toddler seems easier than training proper nose / booger management to a five year old.

On days Ellen has a cold, I feel more like a drill sergeant than her mom. I'm constantly catching her mid-sleeve wipe or barking orders or reminders to manage herself.

"Blow your nose. Actually blow it -- not just a measly little wipe!"

"Throw your Kleenex in the wastebasket -- NOT on the couch, kitchen table, or anywhere you please!"

"Use your chicken wing!"

"Do NOT wipe your nose on me, the couch, the carpet or the cat."

It's frustrating because at five years old, kids can do so much! Ellen can build giant towers, do cartwheels, ride horses, swim across a pool, and argue with adults... which just makes her inability to manage her boogers even more maddening. Ellen's capable of doing it, but just doesn't care to. So, I will nag her. I am mom.

I will continue to bark orders at her until either her nose stops dripping or she uses proper cold management skills.

Until then, I will continue to stuff her pockets with Kleenex and only allow her to get boogers on me when we snuggle. I'm not heartless.