Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Ketchup and Boogers for Lunch

by | May 5, 2024 | Parenting | 0 comments

Parenting and the ever-elusive art of non-meddling

Photo by Fernando Andrade on Unsplash

My wife, Justine, told me once, when our first daughter wasn’t yet potty-trained, that she didn’t know what to do when our baby kicked her at diaper change.

I told her, “The problem is that you are not expecting it. Your guard is so low that an entire blimp can fit through it.”

That’s unfair because I learned on the job and omitted mentioning it. The lesson was taught to me when I was gingerly placing an old diaper in the genie, and my daughter kicked me right on the back of my head.

I thought I was done with bar brawls, but little did I know I was wrong. I have kept my guard up since that day.

Around the same time, Justine was upset because our daughter was in a stage called “oral exploration.”

To put it bluntly, my daughter picked her boogers and caressed them around her lips. Because we were typically in the car when this happened, there was not much we could do to stop her.

It’s gross, I know. But it was just a phase.

So my ‘What’s the big deal?’ stock response to Justine didn’t cut it.

But what is the big deal?


If you have lived all your life and you haven’t eaten a booger, are you even human? Think about that. You might be in the matrix, or a robot, or a robot in the matrix, and you don’t even know it.

I’m forty, and every now and then, I’ll sneak one just so I don’t forget what they taste like. That’s right! Sometimes, I pick them but don’t flick them. Sue me!

Is there anything more terroir than a booger? People pay big dollars for wines to taste like the ground they were grown in.

Now, let me take a pause here.

I don’t typically write hacks because I think there are well-intentioned people out there who are more concerned with that. They tell you about the 500 daily shortcuts to happiness you must immediately implement.

But living in the wine country of California, I have come across some helpful tips for wine appreciation; I’ll share my favorite one with you. An excellent way to impress your friends is by describing wines like you would describe someone’s personality.

The next time you have a delicious 2018 Cabernet Franc from Yountville, you can smack your tongue and say, “Hmmm, this wine tastes like a middle-aged frustrated corporate manager who was bullied in school and never recovered from the trauma. I can taste it on the tip of my tongue, which is funny because his tip is what I feel when said manager hovers over my shoulder ‘Checking on my progress.’”

Let me ask you again: is there anything more terroir than boogers?

Your boogers are the result of the air and dust you breathe everywhere you go. If you close your eyes, you might taste the sterile air, the ultraviolet light that keeps you awake, and the notes of disappointment of all your corporate meetings and ad-hoc committees.

You can use this technique to describe boogers. “Hints of berry and the quiet desperation of all my dreams fleeting away in one more unnecessary, pointless meeting that could have been a tweet.”

If people couldn’t eat boogers, the whole economy would crumble because they wouldn’t commute two hours in winter to their jobs. Think about it. If you commute in the winter, it’s dark when you go to work, and it’s dark when you go home. That’s so you can pick your nose the entire way there and back.

Plus, boogers have plenty of umami.

Hmmm, umami.

It is so pretentious.

But that’s not to say I don’t like pretentious. At one point in my life, I want to pitch investors my concept for a groundbreaking restaurant. It will be called Invisible Ink. This restaurant will be very profitable because the overhead will be minor since there will be no food.

The waiters will ask you to recall flavors as memories, and then they will help you combine them through their meticulous storytelling.

“Next, we will have a four-foot-tall tower of caviar covered in avocado.”
“I’ve never had caviar.”
“Well, whose fault is that?!”

I think my wife was troubled by my daughter’s behavior because of what others might say. That is the worst reason to do anything. Especially meddling in something that might be better left alone. There are so many things in our lives that need less of us.

Around the same time as her oral exploration stage, I took my daughter to lunch. I ordered ribs, Brussels sprouts, chicken tenders, and french fries.

What did my daughter eat? Nothing.

Okay, well, that’s not entirely accurate.

She decided to go for the ketchup ramekin and scoop it with her index finger and into her mouth. Did I do anything to stop it? No. I know that my daughter ate well at home most of the time, so I was not going to get into a power struggle with a human being who didn’t know how to form a sentence yet.

It was the right course of action because the following weekend, we went to the same restaurant and ordered the same things, and at that time, my daughter had chicken, ribs, fries, and ketchup.

The ketchup was still the primary building block of her meal, but it went down from 100% to 60%. That’s because progress happens without us getting in the middle of it.

Why get in the middle? Things are constantly evolving, but we are so preoccupied with getting right all the time that we live in an inescapable circle of shame, guilt, and worry instead of trying to get it okay most of the time and have fun.

Like the famous Persian adage goes, “This too shall pass.” Have a booger while you wait.

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