In our house, ketchup (at least by the kids' standards) is its own dining course. Dear Daughter began demonstrating a passion for the condiment well over a year ago when she would say things like, "I want ketchup with french fries on top." With his very first taste, Son fell equally in love with this American tomato derivative. He will eat anything as long as there is ketchup involved. He is even more excited if you just serve the ketchup alone, but I refuse to indulge this (except for that one time I gave in to his whim to show him he wouldn't like it--yup, that one backfired!). I have been having visions of the movie "Big Daddy" where the son is happy just to suck the ketchup out of the packets. Yuck! Next thing you know, mine will be the "smelly kid." God, help me! Fortunately Son likes his baths--at least at this stage of his life. Husband blames the ketchup thing on me. However, I really only have a penchant for liberal amounts of ketchup on very specific foods--namely burgers and french fries, so I plead innocence.
The only thing worse than Son's infatuation with ketchup is when he gets it between his sticky little fingers, up to his elbows, in his ears and hair, etc. This is double bad because Son HATES HATES HATES to have his face wiped. It's amazing how a one year old can dodge a face wiping. This means that the smell of dried ketchup lingers along with the evidence on various parts of his body. It gets even better because Son is still recovering from a cold, which means a stubborn snot fest is available for my daily enjoyment. There IS something worse, I've discovered, than a child with dried ketchup all over his face: a child with bulging boogers hanging out of his nose and snot wiped via shirt sleeves across his face, some of it still gooey and glistening in the light and some of it dried into brownish patches across his cheeks AND dried ketchup in the spaces between the boogers.
And so there I was last Friday with my trip to the foodmart hanging over my head. We had just finished lunch (ketchup was the guest of honor), and I had gotten all the little feet shoved into shoes and little arms shoved into jackets, and I paused when my brain registered what my eyes were seeing. Son grinned at me as dried snot trails cracked on his cheeks and dried ketchup patches lingered in the creases of his nose and ears. I pondered briefly whether trying to wipe his face again would be worth the trauma it apparently causes him. In the end I knew that no number of repetitions across his face would produce a significantly better result as he is so amazingly keen at dodging the wiping in between screams of protest. With a sigh, I headed to the car with my booger and ketchup encrusted child with the face that only a mother could love.