The nose is a mysterious cavern that must be explored every day. Sometimes hourly; sometimes every few seconds.

At least, that’s what my daughter believes.

This fascination with her nose has perplexed me on numerous occasions. Including a few months ago when she sneakily shoved a piece of corn first up one nostril, then the other. Curious, perhaps as to how it will feel or where it will go, my daughter went with her gut to conduct her experiment.

It wasn’t until she started crying and tugging at her nose that I realized something was up there. One kernel slipped out but the second one was wedged in her nostril.

“Why did you do that?” I asked her as my husband ran upstairs to get the tweezers.

“I don’t know,” she cried.

This wasn’t her first attempt at sticking something up there.

Last time it was a piece of macaroni and cheese. But she was only 1 1/2, still young and unknowing.

Why did I believe 3 is the age of maturity?

“Don’t do that again,” my husband told her after pulling out the kernel.

This daughter of mine, such a pusher of boundaries, lifted another kernel to her nose, all the while locking eyes with her dad.

“Put. It. Down,” he instructed.

She slipped the kernel into her mouth; my husband and I could barely hold in our laughter, only giving into the hilarity of the situation in the kitchen away from her watchful eyes, whispering what a little stinker our daughter can be.

I want my daughters to be curious.

I want them to try new things, to face their fears, to figure out their likes and dislikes, what they can do and what they shouldn’t do.

But their level of curiosity also brings on a certain level of frustration and fear. As their mother, their protector, I’m constantly weighing the negatives with the positives.

Should I let my toddler try to push the baby shopping cart by herself, knowing she will most likely fall? What about the 3-year-old and her request to do things on her own? Do I let her try the scooter without me holding the handles?

It’s a balancing act.

Yes, she can fall off the scooter and scrape her knee, but she will learn to get up, try again. I really shouldn’t let the 1-year-old color in her sister’s coloring book, but she will quickly learn that when her sister says no, she means it.

“By myself,” my daughter commands, slightly pushing my hand off the handles of her tricycle.

I stand off to the side as her dad walks alongside her as she peddles around the cul-de-sac. On the driveway, I anxiously await their arrival when I’ll scan my daughter’s face.

Will she be crying? Will she be happy?

Either way, I’ll be here ready to cheer her on or wrap her up in a hug, kissing boo boos and applying band-aids.

I’ll always be here standing off at a distance, just in case.