March 8, 2009

The Call to Pick

My fourth-grade teacher--whose contract was not renewed at the end of the school year--told my class that all television programs contain subliminal messages. Coca Cola ads told their viewers to "get high on life...and other things" while the 80s sitcom Silver Spoons spewed the villainies of Reaganomics.

Even after the school principal countered this doctrine with an apology letter to our parents, I still couldn't shake the nagging suspicion that my teacher was right. Once I had my own children, I knew for certain that my teacher spoke the truth: televisions DO speak to children.

I have heard of some televisions that speak whole paragraphs to their pint-sized viewers. Being outdated and small, my t.v. only speaks two words: DIG IN.

Within minutes of turning on a movie (even faster if the room's lights are dimmed), my children's fingers find refuge in the warm inner sanctums of their nostrils.

"You cannot sit here if you are going to pick your nose," I told my son on Friday afternoon. He was sitting next to me on the sofa. The opening credits of Beverly Hills Chihuahua (review forthcoming) were just beginning to roll.

He fought the urge by sitting on his hands.

The call to pick was too loud and powerful for my other son to ignore.

"I can't help it!" he cried, flinging himself off the couch.

The annoyance of finding a large booger on my seat cushion outweighed my sympathy for my son's struggle.

I paused the movie and sent all of my children upstairs to 1) empty their nasal cavities 2) retrieve a pair of mittens.

***
Please tell me I don't have the only compulsive nose-pickers out there! Other than putting them in straight jackets, how do you stop the carnage?! Sorry, I know this is gross!

P.P.S. Check back later for pictures. My camera is MIA. Most likely, it's in someone's bedroom under a pile of toys with 150 new pictures of the wall/fish tank/a sibling's forehead on it. I'm going hunting now.

64 comments

Josh and Tiff said...

This isn't always the case, but sometimes a child that picks his/her nose a lot could have pin worms. My nephew did and he picked his nose alllll the time. After he got treated for it, he stopped...other than the occassional "I'm a kid so I'm going to pick my nose every now and then". Not sure if this is the case with yours, but it's definitely worth checking it out.

Crazy Train said...

My oldest daughter was the worst! I finally made her read an article in Reader's digest about a boy who died from some scary bacteria. One of the ways listed to prevent this was to keep your finger out of your nose! She was in 3rd grade at the time. It scared the finger right out of her nose and we haven't had a problem since. Now I need to get to work on her little sister.
I know it seems harsh, but it worked.

Josh and Tiff said...

Btw, a lot of that subliminal message stuff IS true. You learn about it in psychology. There is even a frame in "The Rescuers Down Under" of a topless lady when the mouse is sliding on a sardine can, I think? I'm sure you can find it somewhere on the internet.

Holly said...

At least they admit they do it. My eight year old swears he's not digging for gold when he is up to his second knuckle in those holes. Ick!

I guess you'll know who took your camera by who is NOT in the pictures. Or the one who appears only in the bathroom mirror. Good luck.

janaemadsen said...

just keep tissues by the couch- that way you can teach them where to put it. Because let's face it- it's going to happen.

Alicia said...

My daughter does it too. I cant stand it. She knows we dont like it so now she does it on purpose. I need that article that Crazy Train was referring to. Its just so nasty!

Stephanie said...

I'm working on this with my three-year-old. She refuses to listen when I tell her to stop! It's the worst when she starts digging (and eating!) during church. Yeah, I'm thinking of storing tissue all over the house, maybe just wrapping her hands in it...

Shosh said...

I just discovered that my 6 year old has been picking his nose and wiping the boogers on his bedroom well. DISGUSTING.
Btw..i just wrote a post I think you'd enjoy...
http://daybygloriousday.blogspot.com/2009/03/foreign-language-101.html

Karen said...

I was a preschool teacher for years and it never failed that when I had the children all seated to read a story, I'd look up and they're all busy "eating lunch". It's a habit that takes some consistency to break.

emily said...

Oh man, my 4-year-old will NOT STOP. It's awful. My boys often watch TV on our bed because the computer is in our bedroom and has the DVR (that way they can watch hours of Phineas & Ferb with no interaction from mom). But when I walk in and see his arm up to his elbow in his nose, I get SO MAD. "Not on my bed!" I yell, and send him to his room. It's never-ending. I have tried shame "the kids at school will think you're gross", illness, "you're sick because you have germs on your hands and then stick them in your nose", and punishments "next time you pick your nose, no more Phineas & Ferb" but I just can't punish myself that way.

Betsey Booms said...

Yeah, I haven't said anything, but...

You know how you end all your posts with a comment provoking question? It makes me NOT comment.

All the pressure... So much pressure. ;)

The Mother said...

I felt alot better about this nose-picking issue when I learned that PRIMATES pick their noses.

Yep. Chimps, apes, everybody.

It's ingrained. Evolutionary.

Man has simply evolved enough to think it's gross.

Jennifer Mezines said...

My first grader was picking his nose on the way to school the other morning. I asked him what his friends would think if they saw him doing that. He said...."Tommy did see me the other day"
...and I said..."Oh yeah, and what did he say?" He said..."That's awesome! I do that too!"

So much for peer pressure! Good luck!

WonderMom said...

This makes me feel so much better! My 4 year old has actually tried to convince me that picking your nose is good for little boys.

He came home from school the other day telling me that "Noah is a nasty boy!" I was upset and asked him why he'd say a thing like that. He just answered because Noah picks his nose. I said "But, honey, you pick your nose too." Without missing a beat he answered "Yeah, but not at school, MOOooom!"

He did tell me the other night that he doesn't want to do it anymore, he just doesn't realize when he's doing it. It was so sad. I told him I'd try to help remind him but ever since then, every time I've gently pointed out to him that he's doing it again, he turns around or pulls a blanket over his head or something and keeps going!

Jenglamgirl said...

I will speak for my kids and dare I say it, myself as well..... I don't like a crowded room, to many uninvited guests need to leave. So I think its normal to kick the un-invited guests out, "CLEAN HOUSE SO TO SPEAK" ha ha ha lol! this was gross but funny! LOVE YOUR BLOG, I am so glad I found it! P.S. I voted for ya!

Martha said...

My kids always seem to do it when I READ to them. What does that mean? My voice has underlying subliminal messages implanted in it???? Who knew?

Jenglamgirl said...

ONE MORE THING.... I do tell the kids to knock it off or finish it up in the bathroom on tissue. If I dare find a camped out un-invited guest on my furniture there will be war... lol!

becca said...

he he. nose picking happens to be my oldest son's "self soothing technique" so he always does it when he is tired... and also in front of the tv. I usually just shout, go to the bathroom and get a tissue! "dont wipe that on your belly!!" gross is right. I am looking forward to the movie review. We are trying very hard to not have to watch that particular dog movie. :)

mom2manda said...

hehe.. we have a a few of those also. my daughter never did until she would hang out with her older cousin. i have finally got her not to.. also a doc told my sis until kids at school tease(humilate) him they don't really stop.... btw - sometimes my dad does the same thing - EWWWW

Wtrfrmsky said...

My son thinks whatever he finds in his nose is for his snacking pleasure! I will look over at him and he will even have snot dripping from his nose and his tongue is snaking up to catch it. I will try to tell him that it is gross and that if he is hungry we do have snacks. He just looks up at me, with his angelic face and proceed to eat whatever is at the end of his finger. He has just gotten a reaction from me so he won. I have now chosen the ignore route and I haven't noticed it anymore. Either his friends have informed him that it is not cool or my plan of ignoring it has worked better than I would have thought!

kerri said...

I think the mittens idea was inspired! As long as I don't find the evidence on my furniture I figure everybody does it... Or at least I know my husband still does!

Sticky (not too) said...

Thank GOD it's not just mine! Unfortunately, mine eats it. Gross!
What IS up with that!??!
Oh, laughing at your posr made my daylightsaving hangover a little better, thanks!

Courtney said...

I told my daughter what it was "dirt and yucky stuff that your body doesn't want as is trying to get rid of... like poop from your nose!"

My husband thought it was a bit extreme, but her little fingers have found better things to do :)

Kate said...

My 4-year-old son is doing better with the boogers--he's a little OCD and scaring him with germs helped. HOWEVER. The kid can't keep his hands out of his shorts--I swear, his hands are magnetically attracted to the groinal region.

Anonymous said...

Wish I could help but I pick mine all the time and I'm a mom. I'm gross, I know.

Babs said...

even though I am eating lunch, I still read all the comments. uck! maybe you can market it as the new diet, either way works, reading about it or "dining in".

just yesterday, I was watching my boy play in the ball pit at a birthday party. I saw a little girl pick her nose and wipe it on a ball. it sent a shiver up my spine. now it is the booger pit.

Lady of Perpetual Chaos said...

Um, are you going to post pictures of your kids picking their noses once you find the camera? I had to stop reading the comments cuz they were making me a bit sick...pictures might just send me over the edge!

Rebecca said...

Oh man, my oldest is a nose picker. He would do it at night after I tucked him in. One day I discovered his prized collection on the wall and made him clean them off. He actually cried because I made him get rid of them! I told him not to worry because I took a picture of the collection to show his future girlfriends.

You wouldn't believe how insanely difficult it is to get those dried up things off the wall too!

Elisa said...

note to self: must not be eating when reading The MM's blog posts ;-)

Angela Noelle said...

A long family fishing trip in which all participants bait their own hooks? Strictly no hand-washing allowed.

Deb C. said...

There is no cure. My son fell off the bed yesterday and broke his elbow. In the ER, with 2 IV ports in his hand, a bunch of gauze and tape holidng that hand to a foam pillow, and a blood-oxygen line attached to his thumb, he STILL found a way to stick his finger in his nose!!! He then proceeded to lick not only the finger, but the medical tape wrapped over his hand as well. I give up.

Stephanie said...

Whatever- I think they had to learn it somewhere, the only way I can teach my kids not to pick their noses is to stop doing it myself! Anyone who says they don't do it is lying...I know, I've seen even the most proper people do it!

Carrie said...

My 32 year old husband does this, so I don't really have any hope for you. I think it is very disgusting, evidently he doesn't think the same. He claims that he can't get what he needs to out with a tissue- gross. But I do notice an upward trend when he watches tv. I sadly understand your problem. Hopefully my 18 month old will not pick up the habit.

girlnblack77 said...

Your post is just in time for allergy season! lol
I suppose it doesn't help that a 50+yo relative of ours with a mostly-missing digit has always thought it's fun to show kids in the family said digit "shoved" up his nose to the second knuckle just to watch them try to imitate.
My only solution is: during allergy & cold seasons, I line 'em up and help them blow their noses really good two or three times a day. If there's nothing to pick, the urge diminishes...

Deb said...

Oh my gosh thats hysterical, why does every kid in the world do that???

Oh yeah I knew a couple of lil ones that (who will remain nameles now that they are grown) when Mama changed their bed linens she always found that one side of the fitted sheet was how do I put this "crunchy"???? EWWWWWW

Oh yeah they alllll do it!!!
D

Cami said...

Mine lie. I say, "stop picking your nose!" I am always answered with: "I'm picking my EYE!" or "I'm just ITCHING it!" Or the ever popular, "Don't watch me then...." Ew.

Cami said...

Mine lie. I say, "stop picking your nose!" I am always answered with: "I'm picking my EYE!" or "I'm just ITCHING it!" Or the ever popular, "Don't watch me then...." Ew.

Stoker Family said...

Charlotte does it with her nose and back side. To stop the "poo glove" as Dave calls it I showed her pictures on the internet of worms. Worms coming out of peoples bums and noses and stuff. Totally freaked her out and it worked. For sure you could google some nasty pictures to freak out your kids.

stoner said...

I just love your blog. I found it a couple of weeks ago and I am hooked.

How long did it take for you to get such a large following? It is very impressive.

Don't Wake the Kids said...

I'm constantly reminding my kids not to pick, but it does no good. I'm definitely trying the tissue idea. That's pretty smart.

I love your blog!

Lani said...

Oh boy, I can't wait for that stage. And I can't believe that "The Ricker" would be a vehicle for political propaganda! His little tap-dancing buddy, maybe.

Kathy said...

My two boys are the opposite - they refuse to pick or blow their nose! I beg them to get their boogers out and they refuse! They sound so nasaly all of the time and I can't stand it. I finally had to take a pair of tweezers and start grabbing the hardened gunk out of there. It was not a pleasent or pretty task but at least I knew the nose-clogging junk went into a tissue.

Sims Family said...

I am so glad I found your blog. hahaha. Love it. Honestly, sleeping with a humidifier at night helps the nose picking.

My husband has a similar sense of humor as you. You will have to check out his latest blog entry on t-ball. I think you might get a kick out of it...

Mama Lou said...

My husband taught my four-year old how to twist the tissue to pick his nose. In the bathroom mind you.
My two-year old brings me anything he finds in his nose which I guess is better than eating it or wiping it on the couch.

The Eadle Family said...

My kids are 2 and a half, and it is a constant battle. They usually stop when I tell them too, but it is gross. It doesn't help when Ryan starts telling stories about his coworker who LETS her kids pick their noses. ewwwww!

Linney said...

LOL! i feel for you! mine do it ALL the time! i joke that if they are not sleeping they are picking their noses!

Chelle said...

I tried to read all the comments to get ideas how to stop this, but I'm just getting sick! YUCK!

Anyway, I've got one too! When I say something, she just puts her other hand up in front to cover the fact that she is still doing it, like I can't tell. But then in the mouth it goes.

If you find a succesful way to stop this, just post it and I'll read your blog. But for now, I'm getting too grossed out.

Jillybean said...

The subliminal messages are on the car radio too. We know this because of all the boogies we found wiped all over the backseat and back window of our van.

Anonymous said...

At least it's just your kids...my husband seems to be afflicted with the same problem.

Claudia said...

We have a box of tissue in every room of the house and I'm constantly spraying saline solution up to his nose and blowing his nose.

I'm not sure if this has helped or not but at least the finger comes out clean! :)

Angi Snyder said...

Last time my camera phone ended up missing for a couple of hours, it had pics on it that could have landed me in jail for being a pedophile. Ahh, the joys of being a mom of two boys. Why oh why do they think that their "thing" is something incredibly amusing, and that people would want pictures of it to share???

Anonymous said...

i totally agree with the mittens on approach--we use it a lot to counter the thumb-sucking reflex my 5 year old hasn't beat yet.

Glamour Girl said...

That is really funny! One day you can remind them when they are getting ready for prom. They'll LOVE you for that!

I like your blog!

Nikki said...

Who knew that "nose picking" could inspire so many comments?? ;)

Erin said...

there is a CLEAR nail polish out there that you put on fingers to stop children or anyone from nail biting. It is supposed to taste bad but it also has a burn to it so if the fingers go up the nose it will feel like a small burn and they will learn! Don't worry, we arn't talking about so burning that they will need a dr. Trust me.

the Klimeks said...

I can't stop laughing! Just be thankful they aren't eating the found "gold"!

Kim said...

Band-Aids on the fingers will get you through a movie!

Amelia said...

My husband does it also. All the time. Especially in the car. He doesn't even care if someone sees him! He also pulls little pieces of skin off his feet while he watches TV. He puts the "pieces of feet" in a pile on the end table. Then he leaves it there. The first time I found a PIECE OF FOOT in my baby daughter's mouth, I threatened him with, "I'm telling your mother!" Sometimes I ask myself what I would have done if I had known all of this before I married him. Maybe there would have been something about feet-&-nose-picking in the prenup.

Dorshan said...

My 5 year old said "I only eat them because you haven't fixed my snack yet" ewwww... I guess you could try giving them snacks??? LOL

miss_amorris said...

I feel your pain...My husband and children think that in order to get the car running you have to have one finger up your nose!! Gross! I have tried to tell my family that the windows are not one way and that the public gets to enjoy their hobby also. Oh..the woes of being a woman, wife, and mom....

kboulia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kboulia said...

You are not alone! My kids consider boogers a food group and no amount of nagging, lecturing, or freaking out has stopped the madness. In fact, if anything it has made them consider picking their nose even more hysterical...if that's possible!

Jen said...

I scared a nose-picking boy I babysat for once many years ago by reading Shel Silverstein's Warning:

"Inside everybody's nose
There lives a sharp-toothed snail.
So if you stick your finger in,
He may bite off your nail.
Stick it farther up inside,
And he may bite your ring off.
Stick it all the way, and he
May bite the whole darn thing off."

This boy was convinced there was a snail inside his nose. Although it sounds like your kids might be beyond snail-scaring.

Allyssa said...

I've been reading all the old posts and haven't yet commented on any of them but this is just to good not to comment on.

I don't have any kids but I work with an 11 year old at work and he picks his nose. The problem with this is that he's blind and doesn't know when his friends are staring at him. I taught him how to cover it or face away from the class but it's so obvious to me lol. I subtlety put a kleenex against his hand for him, or ask him if he wants one. He usually stops then. It was really bad when they were sitting in groups facing each other and the boy across from him was staring right at him.

I do, however, agree that it's impossible to get it out by blowing but I don't pick and eat and I use a kleenex to dig and I don't do it outside of the bathroom... lol ewww