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The Kernel of Truth: What Kids Shove Up Their Noses

posted Monday August 11th, 2008

Growing up, I always heard the adage, “Never put anything in your ear that’s smaller than your elbow.”

(Good advice, though be honest: Who among us doesn’t enjoy a good session with a few Q-tips?)

No one ever said anything about noses. Except not to pick, of course. Which is why I was annoyed the other day, when I noticed Sophie digging for gold.

“No pickin’!” I admonished gently.

“I have a bee in my nose!” she told me.

Okay, first, I had to stop and celebrate the use of a beautiful sentence. But I did worry about articulation, because why would Sophie have a bee up her nose? Since she repeated it several times, I assumed she was not only using a good sentence, but a lovely, well-placed metaphor — after all, it might feel like a bee had flown up your nose, if it was itchy. Right?

Wrong. It was Saturday, and Sophie and I were out for a quick shopping trip, hooking up with our friends Cindy, Deborah and Anna. Cindy runs the amazing shop MADE, in downtown Phoenix (, and Deborah (among her many talents) is mother to Anna, age 10. We gathered in the store. The grown ups chatted, and so, apparently, did the kids.

“Uh, Amy, Sophie just told me she has a popcorn kernel up her nose,” Anna announced, only moments after our arrival.

How the hell did she figure that out? She didn’t even know that Sophie had, in fact, been eating popcorn on the drive over.

“Sophie, did you put a popcorn kernel up your nose?” I asked, having a deja vu moment, since Annabelle and I just finished reading “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” by Judy Blume the other night. (Out of Sophie’s earshot, I swear, though the resemblance to the scene involving Dribble the Turtle and Fudge the Toddler — no more, I don’t want to be a spoiler — was a little uncanny.)

“Yes!” Sophie said.

But you know, you can never be sure with Sophie. She also insisted she had not shoved a popcorn kernel up her nose, particularly after I’d tried blowing in her mouth to dislodge it. (Not pleasant for either of us, let me assure you.)

This all happened, naturally, just a few minutes after noon. So the pediatrician’s office was closed. Among the three of us, Deborah, Cindy and I called close to a dozen friends and family members, most of whom advised that a trip to urgent care was likely in the future, and all of whom had their own great stories of Things Up Noses. (I liked the one about how the woman knew her kid had shoved a coffee bean up there, because of the aroma of hazelnut; the rotting Nerf one was disgusting; but my favorite, which just came in this morning, involved the kid who said, “I have an eye up my nose” — and sure enough, his father later pulled out a renegade googly eye from a school craft project.)

We had exhausted the possibilities offered on the phone and by, as well as the supply of temporary tattoos Cindy had graciously offered up to distract Sophie from the blowing thing, when from across the room, we heard:


I looked over, and there was a somewhat startled looking Sophie. And a popcorn kernel.

She had told the truth. The metaphors will come later — I’m certain of it.

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3 Responses to “The Kernel of Truth: What Kids Shove Up Their Noses”

  1. My brother used to shove things up his nose. The last straw came when he had to be taken to the emergency room for a piece of sponge he had up there that went unnoticed for a few days…

  2. My youngest did that a couple of times. The last one was a piece of meat. Yikes.

  3. Reading your posts just reminds me of all this childhood stuff… One night my brother stuck green beans in his nose. We all laughed. The next night my sister decided to copy him and stuck that nights vegetables in her nose. Peas. I wanted to join the fun so I pinched her nose. In her shock she did a big inhale.

    Oh geez. Bad move. Don’t ever try to inhale squished peas.

    Did I mention we were all driving age at the time?

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