In social animals, including humans, social grooming is an activity in which individuals in a group maintain each other’s appearance. It is a major social activity, and a means by which animals who live in proximity can bond and reinforce social structures, family links, and build relationships. Social grooming is also used as a form of reconciliation and a means of conflict resolution.
-A special thank you to Wikipedia for ever useful, though tenuously reliable information-
I’m a social groomer. That sounds nicer. My family would call me a picker. I pick.
I pick lint off of Leo’s shirts, I pick fuzz out of Simeon’s hair, I pick dry skin, boogers, ear crusties, scabs, zits, etc.
I think I compulsively pick the ick off my family because I love them. I clean Cordelia’s ears several times a day. Poor Simeon better not walk by with a crusty on his face or I’m sure to pull out the spit and wipe. It’s the maternal in me.
I’ve not been conscious of it until recently. Most recently I deep cleaned Cordelia’s belly button while she napped. I found myself inches from her walnut belly digging my pinky into the deep crevices of her non-committal innie/outie. And while I worked scraping loose all of the gunk her belly has already collected, I felt an inordinate amount of warm affection for my little girl.
So what if I’m a picker. So what if it really is a gross habit. So what if it drives my family batty. It’s me and I do it out of love.
Now, come here. You’ve got a little something right there…