Thick, crusty, green boogers trail down the child's upper lip. He licks at them, drinking up his own snot. He looks up at me and smiles: I notice the green tubes of goo glistening in the light, his chubby cheeks are caked with dried mucus.
I contemplate grabbing a baby wipe from my bag and cleaning the mess that coats this child's face, but I hold myself back.
After all, he doesn't belong to me. I don't even know this child, he just happens to be standing in line behind me at the shops.
For the love of God, won't someone give his face a quick wipe?
I'm one of the most easy going mums you'll ever meet, there's not a lot that will irk me. But I cannot stand seeing a child with a filthy face.
As a fellow mother, I understand that things can happen. It's easy to accidentally leave the baby wipes at home. Those little white squares are so precious, I feel a wave of panic wash over me when I realise I don't have any with me.
Especially if my child has the dreaded runny nose. I've been known to use all sorts of unorthodox methods to clean my child's face, from using the inside of their t-shirts to my own saliva.
Whatever works, right? Thank God for washing machines.
I've forgotten the baby wipes and somehow that has been the day we decided to stop in for a surprise visit to the ice cream shop.
My children were absolute sticky messes.
I could have left them dirty, sure. I wouldn't be the first to do so. Let them rub their dirty, sticky hands all over every surface in a five metre radius, no one will mind! After all, they're so adorable.
Trust me, no one finds a filthy child adorable.
So I grabbed a bottle of water and some napkins and gave them a quick clean up. An easy fix. We managed without those beloved baby wipes. There's always a way.
Back to the boy with the green mucus sliding out his nose, though. There's no way these are fresh boogies. They are so crusted and dried, they must have been there for hours. There's no way no one has noticed. We are at the grocery store, surely a mere 95 cents could have been invested in a cheap box of tissues.
Can you imagine how uncomfortable the poor child is? I know I couldn't stand to be ingesting my own bodily secretions - but hey, each to their own! Don't get me started on the germs. Gross. I'm praying he doesn't sneeze.
Before I had children, I couldn't stand to see a child with a dirty face. There were some kids I saw that almost turned me off starting a family all together.
That's why, as a parent, I have taught my young children to know when they need to clean their face and hands. They know if they have "a boogie" that they need to get a tissue and wipe their nose. This is basic human etiquette.
When my kids were very young, it was a bit of a battle to clean their faces. They'd squirm and wriggle and push the washer away, they weren't fans. But I persevered. Now that they are three and four, they run straight to the sink to clean up after they eat. They use copious amounts of tissues when they have a cold. But they put in the effort to keep themselves clean, a habit I hope will stay with them as they grow.
If your child can count to 20, recite the alphabet, and name all the colours, that's fantastic. Just don't forget to teach them some basic hygiene, too.