Thumbsucker. Bed wetter. Nose Picker. Ah, the stigmas of childhood, the fuel of bullies worldwide. For me, I started out as “Buck Teeth Billy” until Dr. Kutner strapped a set of metal braces to my teeth and hooked me up to a neck guard that pulled my overbite back into my mouth. Unfortunately, it also left me with scoliosis, but at least I no longer was called “Buck Teeth Billy”.
As time went on, the stigmas and name calling changed and grew more sophisticated. Eventually, my maiden name was creatively spun into “Cow Ass”, which also took a nice jab at my weight problem.
I spent many years crying over these taunts but grew up, grew stronger, and became a much more confident woman. I also had a really nice rack to accompany my “Cow Ass” and, in my 20’s, learned how to dwarf my ass and accentuate my cleavage to my benefit. Taunted as a child taught me to develop a quick wit and a friendly/outgoing personality that was a complete advantage in my career and with my friends.
But I never outgrew the shame and embarrassment associated with the name calling. As much self confidence I exuded outwardly, internally I was as self-conscious as the next person. And, at 34 years old, I sometimes still feel that sting of rejection that permeated my entire childhood/adolescence and teenage years.
But now, as a Mom, I look at my daughter and wonder just what taunts could follow her throughout childhood. And, not having to look far, I realize exactly what might be the first stigma to follow her around as a toddler.
Baby J. is a nose picker. She’s also a nose picker eater, which makes it even worse. I agonize as a Mother between wanting her to explore her body and not feel shame, and yearning to educate her against her little picking habit.
From a health perspective, let’s be honest, picking your nose and eating it isn’t unhealthy. It’s just gross. With the horrible Jerusalem weather, DH and I have been suffering from terrible allergies. So much so, each room of the house has at least a package of tissues or a roll of toilet paper, so we don’t get caught with snot running down our faces.
Baby J. learned at an early age to wipe her nose. And, when she has a runny nose, is more than happy to wipe it all away with a tissue. I felt a lot of accomplishment in that education lesson. But, at times, we’ll find her digging for gold while watching TV and eating whatever she finds.
I wonder the best way to approach this latest habit. Do we sit her down and explain that it’s not nice to pick your nose and eat it? Will that fill her with shame? She has been born with such an amazing gift of natural self confidence, she already marches to the beat of her own drum, that I do not want to quash that. But, on the other hand, I do not want to perpetual an unattractive habit. And, not so much that I really care that she picks her nose and eats her boggers, but because of the stigma attached to that habit.
I want to protect her for the bullies. I do not want the children to taunt her, and call her “nose picker”, and beat that wonderful self confidence out of her.
Do you have a thumbsucker, bed wetter, nose picker, et al? If so, how did you (or are you) helping your child grow out of this habit?
I’d love some advice!