Thursday, January 12, 2006

My Teeny Tiny Wee Little Smelly Life

I never thought my life would be small enough to keep in a box. But it is. My life has shrunken until it could fit into a ring box, or a shoe box, if we're being generous. For instance, yesterday, the highlight occurred when the 8-month old baby girl belched loudly, then spit-up through her nose only. She shot that formula straight onto my carpet, leaving small rivulets of regurgitation mustachio-ing her lip.

I mean, seriously, that's all I can remember from yesterday.

I am in the midst of my most serious parental struggle yet. I still haven't forgotten that long ago day when my blue-eyed twin, then two years old, repeatedly bashed a small cologne bottle against the window pane. (He liked to carry it around to sniff.) I said, "NO!" in my stern mommy voice. And then he did it again. I repeated, "NO!" even louder and he did it again. And again. And again.

So, I wrestled that bottle out of his sticky little hand and he howled his outrage and I swept him off his feet and marched him to bed for his nap and he cried a while and then I cried awhile over the struggle that is parenthood and over my failure to triumph over evil. Well, really, I cried because convincing my son that I was the parent and he was the child has rubbed the fabric of my sanity threadbare. Power struggle does not begin to describe it.

But this is worse. Oh, so much worse, for a few days ago, my husband and I agreed that the time has come to give the 12-year old boys a little more responsibility. Two days ago, I said to them, "Boys, Dad and I have realized we've been treating you like babies, telling you when and how often to shower or bathe. From now on, you're in charge. Take a bath or shower when you need one. It's up to you. Except on Saturdays . . . then you have to bathe before church on Sunday."

And so, this is their second full day without bathing. Yesterday, they had P.E. at the YMCA. Still, no shower. I've had to stop myself from ordering them upstairs to commune with the soap and the shampoo because . . . yuck.

Tonight, I inquired, "Boys, do you have any idea what time you'll shower tonight?" and my blue-eyed twin, the cologne-bottle-basher, accused me of not trusting him and of treating him like a baby and so, I slammed closed the door and left. He apologized later for being disrespectful to me, but he did not shower.

But we will be strong. We will let them be in charge of this. Sooner or later, they will smell each other and they will discover the glories of soap for themselves. Or they will pass out from the stench and then we can hose them down.

Meanwhile, pass me a gas mask. And leave the cover off my little boxed life when you go . . . we're going to need the fresh air.


Blogger Jan said...

Ah, the "sweaty boy smell". There is nothing like it in the world and how very familiar I am with it-how many lectures I've delivered, rewards I've promised, punishments I've inflicted on the stinky ones. All to no avail, showering, teeth-brushing etc. seems to fall in the same category with potty training. You can lead the boy to the shower, but you can't make them use it. When they're ready(usually seems to be around 15 at my house, the battle is just one day over and you've discovered they have bathed under the power of their own will. They've used shampoo, soap, the whole works and the universe rejoices with you-until then I guess you learn to breathe through your nose.

With three of my boys still under 13, I deeply empathize.

5:53 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

well, tomorrow's Saturday, at least for sure then, right?

6:04 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

15 or so is about the age my son, too, decided that perhaps he didn't want to smell any more. You're boys are 12. Three years is a long time to deal with dirty boys. Are you sure you wouldn't rather give them responibility for some other area of their lives....after all, stink and filth don't really bother kids at all.

7:06 AM  
Blogger lucylocket said...

After reading the above comments, you may be asking yourself, "Why 15?" As the mother of two sons, I can tell you. That's when GIRLS enter the picture. Then you can't get them out of the shower, and your water bills will rise.

7:12 AM  
Blogger Goslyn said...

Yuck. I think I would stick to mandatory showers.

7:20 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

Ah, the utilization of the box analogy, nice!

Yup, I was gonna say that as soon as they develop an interest in the opposite sex, all bets are off as to how often they will use the shower, and even (gasp) cologne.

I think boys can go a really long time without bathing. Perhaps a reward for choosing to bathe? Or back to mandatory showers?

Let's just poke some holes in the lid for you....

8:19 AM  
Blogger Jack-on-the-Lake said...

Looking forward to it in 9 years! Being the clean-freak I am (plus control-freak but that's another entry), I will have a hard time letting go too.

8:52 AM  
Blogger The Dung Beetle said...

I feel your pain, regarding both the rain (we share the same region) and the stinky kids.

I admire your courage too... placing bathtime in the hands of children is a bold, but neccessary step... one that i'm not yet strong enough to make.

We have a 10 yr old boy and an 11 yd old girl who love to swim, but for some odd reason, have an aversion to bathing. Perhaps soap upsets them.

Whenever my Bookie suggests that they bathe, we get irate responses like "But I took a shower yesterday morning!" I mean... who can argue with that ironclad logic?

10:54 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I agree with the 15 year old theory. That's when the regular showers started and the manly fragrance began wafting through the house o'estrogen.

1:48 PM  
Blogger yorkist rose said...

My beautiful, lithe 15 year old girl is still bad about the bathing, complaining that her hair is thick (it is)and takes too long to dry. We haven't mastered the "put up hair and wash everything else" method. Hopefully now that she's in PE?

As for me, I'm holding my tongue over the constant phone chatter. Hours and hours and hours and it bothers her father - not one straw. I actually took the headset off her sleeping head at 2:30 a.m. so I could hang up the open line! Ack.

Feel for ya.

2:00 PM  
Blogger deb said...

There but for the grace of God... With two girls at 10 and 8, I don't boy-smells will be a problem - at least not until they start dating. I think. I hope.

But, I think that 12 is an interesting age for them to become aware of themselves... I'll send you some nose plugs. :-)

4:20 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

Soon, you will be wondering if you will EVER get to shower with hot water again.

Every cloud has it's silver lining...

8:10 PM  
Blogger Diddy-Win said...

Okay, this is going to sound pretty nasty to you moms out there who don't know the 'boy/man culture' BUT.... the looooong showers at 15 aren't JUST to get clean...they have other "handy" activities going on...
...argue and whine all you want - that is one of the only places... well, never mind, I think you get the idea.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Tina said...

Just last night my husband and I talked about the fact that it is so different having girls than boys. It's not like their shoes don't smell as bad, but the girls actually notice and care to do something about it. Every day our house smells of conditioner and body spray. It used to smell like gym clothes...that had been worn forever. I miss my boy, but not the smell of his room!

7:50 AM  

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