The other day my 21-year-old son was in the kitchen, and when I came downstairs an awful stench hit my nose. As I rounded the corner, he was throwing something sealed in a plastic bag into the garbage. He had the most disgusted look on his face. He almost shouted to me, “This is the worst smell I’ve ever experienced in my life, rotted Kale…nothing could be worse.”
So are all the parents out there laughing??? Oh, the smells of parenthood…WE all know that there are a LOT of things that can be worse than the smells of weeks old Kale…
I still remember after giving birth to this same 21 year old…coming home as a first-time mom, and thinking changing diapers wasn’t that bad. A tiny bit of poop, no real smell…disposable diapers…NOOOOooooo problem. What was all the diapering fuss about?
Over the next weeks, though, reality hit, literally. I won’t describe how a kid’s poop changes, because you’ve all been there, done that. And what about that first time the poop literally shoots out at you? No, I won’t talk about that either…nor will I try to describe the smell. But it was definitely worse than weeks old Kale…pretty sure.
As parents, most of you have probably put up with many unbelievable smells on behalf of your kids’ pets. And I’m not just talking about poop and barf clean-up for furry, loving pets like cats and dogs. I’m talking cleaning out the toad cage (which required removing said slimy toad with my own hands), which always smelled of something that had died. And then…sadly, one day, I actually did find said toad in a prone position with something oozing from its mouth. I cleaned that up, too…and the toad’s funeral was quite lovely.
Then there were the tree frogs…they were actually quite cute…but required live crickets for food. Not only did I buy and deal with those, but cleaned up the frogs’ cage twice a week as they were “sensitive” to bacteria from their poop (like I wasn’t!). The tree frogs smelled, too…and were equally gross when they died. Those were also lovely funerals.
The tarantula was actually not as smelly as the frogs and toad…but cleaning out its cage was a bit more terrifying. His name was Sigmund, and he actually didn’t die on my watch and was eventually donated to the school. He didn’t really smell, but the dead crickets that he didn’t get around to eating did.
There were lizards, hermit crabs, fish and more…all were smelly when they were alive, and smelled worse when they died. The worst was a lizard that had died and gone unnoticed (probably the reason he died, oops…)…he had decomposed, and when I lifted the lid I was hit with a very…shall we say, “rotted Kale” aroma? There were many lovely funerals.
As a parent of budding teens you are suddenly hit one day with the most repugnant odor you may have ever smelled. You wonder what is that smell?
And then you realize, it is your teenager…hormones kicking into overdrive, and for some reason that can’t be fully explained, they don’t seem to smell THEMSELVES…ever notice that? You could be turning blue and on the floor, gasping for fresh air, and they’ll be standing there fully stretched out, arm pits exposed, leaning over the open fridge door trying to figure out what they might want to eat… and they will be oblivious to the stench.
And then you start with the momisms…telling them they stink…but they don’t see what you are talking about, they really don’t. And although even their clothes stink, they’ll actually put them on again. You buy them deodorant, and they don’t use it. Even writing about it, I can vividly remember the smell when we were sitting in the car driving TO school (how could they already stink at the start of their day!)…ugh!
I’m not sure what happens next. My guess is a friend or potential girlfriend actually says something about the odor…because miraculously, one day, they are finally able to detect the stench…they start to wear deodorant and then the other smelly stuff, too…OMG, the smells of some of those body sprays is almost as bad as the B.O. stench.
And after the hormones burst…many of us parents have actually resorted to “smelling” our kids in an effort to uncover some clue as to what they’ve been up to… I remember for a while, having my younger son wake us up when he came home so I could “examine” him…meaning, smell him, for beer or pot. He always passed the test, and I learned years later that quite often I had incorrectly given him a thumbs up…gee…!
I’d even go into a son’s room sometime and sniff. And sometimes I’d try and engage my husband to confirm a suspicion…but he’d have no part of it. He’d always say the smell was just teenage smell…kind of sweaty and…well, a teenager…
I’m sure most of you have sniffed your teenager at least once…?
Parenting is Not for The Weak
So once again I am left realizing that parenting is not for the weak…the weak of mind, heart, patience…or nose. And I do hope I am around when my own sons get a whiff of parenting…it definitely smells worse than rotten Kale at times…but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.