Um, that ain't mine.

Are parents really judged by how their children act? Are you personally judged by the intelligence of your offspring. That is what was going through my mind as my daughter starting picking her nose right in the middle of story time.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if we were in the back or if she was near me so that I could at least put a stop to it. But no, because fate likes to play games with me, she was at the very front of the group watching the teacher read a book. And she was standing. And she was laughing very loud. And I was a good 15 feet away from her.

It was right in the middle of the story so I was trying to make as little disturbance as I could so that I wouldn’t have 20 toddlers and their parents throwing arts and crafts supplies at my head. There is nothing worse than getting speared in the eye by a gluestick.

When she first entered the nasal area I politely, in a very quiet whisper said “Little Hoss! Little Hoss! Look over here! Get your finger out of your nose!” I felt a little like Steve Martin in Three Amigos yelling “WHIPPERWILL!”

She promptly ignored me and then started to twirl in a circle right when Harry the Ghost checked under his bed for monsters. There were no monsters of course under Harrys bed. However, to those immediately around me, I had just laid claim to the child in the front who was now proceeding to her second knuckle in her quest to determine exactly how far back her brain was situated in her head.

I heard several of the parents close to me begin to chuckle a little bit, almost the snide smirk you might hear as if they are thinking “He’s a parent of that nose picker!” And I know what they were thinking. Somewhere along the way someone had to teach this kid to pick her nose because obviously she was no rookie at it. And if someone had to teach her, well, it had to be good old dad who I’m sure they also believe farts at the dinner table while making crude gestures at Baywatch girls.

I can take most judgment thrown my way, especially by other parents. As a stay at home dad, you run into a lot of people that just don’t get what you do, why you do it or the fact that you are indeed no pedophile but just want to spend time with your kids. But I also realize that the way my kid is perceived as far as intelligence goes and manners is a direct reflection on my abilities as a stay at home dad. And not just me, but every stay at home dad everywhere. This was a direct assault on all of us and our way of life.

It was with this motivation in mind that I began frantically waving my arms trying to get my daughters attention each time her twirl brought me into her field of view. If you slowed down footage from my montage of waving arms and contorted faces you can very plainly see me spelling out with my gestures “For the Love of God quit picking your nose! People are watching!”

Of course having Bubba Hoss in my arms during this time probably messed up the delivery a little bit but at least he was having a good time and started to clap every time that I waved my arms. Good times, let’s play the game “shame” with father.

She finally stopped twirling about the time that Harry the Ghost was checking behind the shower curtain for monsters and then promptly began jumping up and down instead, further driving her finger up her nose. Honestly, half the damn finger was up there and I began to wonder if there was any stopping this destruction of her nasal cavity short of me throwing Bubba Hoss at her head and knocking her unconscious.

I also realized that I had lost my little game and it was time to change strategy to “Who’s kid is that?” Rather than calling attention to myself, I decided to shut it down and just let nature take its course. Eventually she would dig out whatever it was she was searching for and this would be over. Until then, I would sit quietly in the back of the class and begin counting the number of fibers in my shoe laces. After all, only a handful of people around me knew that it was my kid, there was no need to inform the rest of the class.

I know that it’s the coward’s way out, that I should have not only not ignored my daughter but proudly proclaim that the champion nose picker that was on display was my flesh and blood. But I also know that I have taken the brunt of a lot of things like this and I didn’t see the harm of letting this one fall completely on her shoulders for a change.

We have ruined movies, we have destroyed nice restaurant meals and I’m pretty sure that every person at the zoo hates us for ignoring all the “don’t feed the animals” signs. I’m sure that those squirrel like creatures are supposed to weigh a good 200 pounds and suffer from diabetes and congestive heart failure. What do you want us to do, she’s 2 and can’t read.

So this time, fuck it, pick away kiddo. If you are going to make a display, make it a good one. Good old dad is just going to sit back here and enjoy the show with the rest of the crowd.

When Harry the Ghost finally found the monster in the mirror Little Hoss finally extracted her finger and relief swept over me until I saw the huge mucus colored booger hanging off her finger.

“Dear god, please don’t eat it. Please don’t eat it. Please don’t eat it.” That was my mantra.

To my ever loving delight she looked at it, turned it around a few times and then wiped it on her jacket.

That’s right, I’m the proud father of a nose picker. But I’m not the father of a booger eater!

Victory is mine.

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