As my kids get older, I’m learning that where the grown-ups were once in control setting rules, now virtually any situation can occasion high-level negotiations. Even when it comes to rules we think we have established, we can still be surprised.

However, there are times when the grown up must turn dictator, especially when the situation concerns health and safety—not to mention avoiding trips to the E.R. In the Eis family, we have a new rule based on just such an unexpected trip. Simply put, that non-negotiable rule is: your nose is not a hiding place.

Playtime ran amuck last week when my 4-year old son started crying, claiming something was stuck in his nose. We’ve had this conversation a lot lately given the stuffy/runny nose mania spreading through his preschool class, but there was something different about this declaration. With his Power Ranger action figures spread all around him, only a few feet from my husband’s watchful eye (the other eye was on ESPN), my son decided that he would “hide” his action figure’s micro walkie-talkie in his nose so that his sister couldn’t take it. He later said he hid it there because he knew there was no way she’d look in there to find it. Smart-ish kid.

(It’s worth noting that she was playing dress up in her room, with zero interest in Pilot’s toy, but he’s always been a planner. Guess he got that from me. Yay, I think.)

We later learned that he did a few trial stashes to be sure he could retrieve it when the big sister threat had dissipated. The trial runs went well….until the toy got hidden, seemingly permanently.

So the tears begin, and the panic with it – my husband’s panic, that is. And so it unfolded when I received 12 – count them t-w-e-l-v-e – messages that read: “911. Call me ASAP.” Evidently a tweezer operation was beyond my husband, so it was off to the hospital to consult the professionals.

The professionals gave us a lecture-esque, helpful-ish education on the history of “foreign bodies” found in noses of children. Ranging from the natural reflex of using their own fingers, to more creative objects like crayons, beads, peas/beans, spaghetti, toys, and of course, french fries. (Of course.) Some present greater danger than others as potential airway blockers if fully inhaled, but mostly all can be removed from the nasal passage through one of many “excursion techniques” and a healthy dose of “calm.” The methods vary in form and entertainment value…everything from drainage and suction, to sedatives, tweezers and other unspecified “tools.”

In this case, the tweezer operation was indicated, and we were home within the hour, where we embarked on a mission to help our son find more suitable hiding places for his most treasured things. So that is how our new house rule went into immediate effect, and a new bedtime routine with it:

Did you brush your teeth? Check.

Did you say goodnight to your sister? Check.

Have you hidden anything in your nose? Check….and double check.

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