What Stinks


A couple of days ago I had gotten into our car to buckle the baby in while Halen stood next to our driver, who was holding the door open for me. He sniffed loudly. “What smells?” he yelled.

The driver glanced down at him. Halen stuck his face into the car and asked, “Why does this thing smell like that?” The driver at this point was undoubtedly wondering whether he had put on too much cologne or too little cologne.

Distracted with other concerns, I couldn’t think of what to say. The driver rescued me by pointing to Grace’s half-eaten banana and saying that must be what Halen was smelling. (Not likely, although it might have contributed to the problem.) Mercifully, Halen didn’t dispute the suggestion--not loudly enough to be noticed, anyway.

After school that afternoon, Halen remarked on the smell of our car once again. We’d drive past a sewage truck, and he’d note the smell. We’d be in exhaust-thick traffic, and he’d announce the smell. The kid could not get enough of his olfactory sensations. When we were nearly home, he inhaled deeply and mused, “I kind of like the smell of farts.”

You’d think that’s the last thing a mother would want to hear at the end of a long ride home from school with four exhausted children. But I was actually glad for the reminder to sit down with Halen and have a very direct talk about why it’s not a good idea to make loud, public announcements about smells and their origins.

For the love of Pete! You’d think this kid had never smelled anything in his life until we moved to a new country!