December 5, 2014

OMG, Stop Sniffling And Use a Tissue!
(The Symphony of {Sniffs})

There are many annoying sounds in this world—road construction at 7 in the morning, most cell phone ringtones, Caillou—but none compare with the Symphony of {sniffs} that overtakes our house every winter during flu season. The Symphony of {sniffs} makes me wish I owned a chalkboard so I could drag my fingernails down it to drown out the noise. Even then, though, the chalkboard would cover its own ears and beg for mercy.

Let me be clear: I’m not talking about sneezes; sneezes I can handle. In fact, I sneeze all the time. Sometimes I sneeze so hard that my headphones fly off my head.1 A good, loud, strong, well-crafted sneeze doesn’t annoy me, it impresses me, the same way I’m impressed by a 104 MPH fastball and Wendy’s Baconator. I can appreciate art. I’m talking about the constant and repetitive sniffing up snot that all kids do. 

And all kids do it. 

When snot runs out of an adult’s nose, the adult, who knows how to do smart things like set up an in-home wireless network or Photoshop a picture of a dog dunking a baseketball, will wipe that snot up with a tissue—unless, of course, there is no tissue to be found. Then he (or she) will use the backside of his (or her) sleeve.2 We will go through tissue after tissue (or sleeve after sleeve) to keep our upper lip free and clear. We will do this not only because we’re mature and it’s the right thing to do, but also because it may be Thursday night and you know what Thursday night means. {wink wink} 3

Kids, on the other hand, understand the concept of using a tissue about as well as they understand calculus. A box of tissues could be sitting on their lap with the top tissue sitting up so high it’s practically touching their nose, and instead of using it, they will go {sniff} and suck that mucus right back up into their brain.


{sniff} {sniff} {sniff}

That doesn’t seem so bad, you say. I mean, how terrible can it be, you say.  After all, it’s all lowercase and lacks an exclamation point! If it were serious it’d have an exclamation point!

That’s what people without kids think. People with kids know better. They know that the {sniff} doesn’t need any additional punctuation to drive you insane. They know that the {sniff} wears you down and makes you want to hurl yourself out the window!4 They know that the {sniff} doesn’t come to the party alone. The {sniff} brings {sniff} after {sniff} after {sniff}. Let me give you a couple (of maddening) examples.

Example #1: You’re rocking out to your favorite band in the car. For argument’s sake, let’s say it’s not the Imagination Movers. Let’s pretend it’s someone cool like Rick Astley. You’re trying to sing along but, in the background, after every 4th word, you hear {sniff}.
We’ve known each other{sniff} for so long, your {sniff} heart’s been aching, but {sniff} you’re too shy to {sniff} say (inaudible mumble while you headbob) … we know the {sniff} game and we’re gonna {sniff} play it.
See how annoying it is—and you’re only reading it! I can assure you that no matter how loud you turn up the volume, you will still, somehow, hear each and every {sniff}. The real victim here, though, is Rick Astley.

Example #2: You’re on the phone with a friend and you’re SO close to solving world hunger but you just can’t hear your friend’s ideas because all you can hear is:
{sniff} … {sniff} … {sniff} … {sniff} … {sniff}
It’s like a slow drip from a leaky faucet, only you can’t stop the sound by calling the plumber. Trust me, I’ve tried. No matter how much money you offer the plumber, he (or she) will refuse to come to your house and stop the leaky nose. Worse yet, your friend has now solved world hunger without you and doesn’t even thank you when he (or she) appears on Ellen. What a jerk.

Example #3: It’s 3 A.M. in the morning and all you’ve heard for the last 4 hours (and all you will hear for the next 4 hours) is:
{sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff}5

The point is, parents have a lot of miserable things to deal with—The Symphony of {sniffs}, dirty diapers, bloody knees, homework assignments that are more work for the parents than they are for the kids, Ebola—and yet we still find the strength and willpower every day to wake up, brave the exhaustion that awaits, and care for our kids. We do it because we love them. We do it because for every {sniff} there is a hug and a smile. We do it because one day we will be old and we don’t want them to stick us in the crappy nursing home that used to be a run-down Howard Johnson (you know, the one with all the murders!).

But mostly it’s for the hugs and smiles.
1 This is 100% true. My co-workers will confirm this. So will Twitter
2 I included the pronoun “she” to indicate that I am not sexist and will not adhere to the sexist rule of only using the pronoun “he” when a singular pronoun is needed. I want to make sure that women are treated equally when discussing wiping snot on their sleeves. (You are welcome women!)
4 Did you know there’s a word for throwing something out a window? It’s defenestrate. I hid it here in the footnotes, though, because it sounds dirty.
5 {sniff}

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

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