Tuesday, January 09, 2001

Smelling trouble

My son won't go near me in the mornings.

I creep into his room, gently rouse him from slumber, and he opens his big blue eyes, fixes me with his solemn gaze and says, "Go away! You smell bad! Take a shower!"

It's a touching moment.

If I were the sensitive type, this would cut me to the quick. But I have learned not to be sensitive with this child. He repeats phrases he's heard. He gets into routines. He sometimes says, "I hate you!" with the same loving tone as "I love you" (though thankfully, he says "I love you" more.) He understands language and uses it creatively, but he doesn't understand feelings and sort of disregards them entirely. He's a sweetheart, but tact ain't his strong suit.

So it doesn't bother me when he says I stink. Much. I can pop on my therapist-mom hat and speculate that his sensory-integration difficulties make him sensitive to certain smells, and therefore it's a medical thing, not a judgemental thing. Though, come to think of it, there are no other smells that bother him. And in my humble olfactory opinion, his Papa has smelled worse and received no such objection. It's just me who's banished until he detects the gentle bouquet of Lever 2000 on my skin.

I could let it worry me. I could obsess about bonding, and whether this represents a snag in our fabric of attachment. I could worry about cruelty, and whether he thinks its funny to say mean things. I could reflect on all the times I cleaned his stinky, poopy butt when he wore diapers, and hold a grudge. I could punish him for hurting my feelings, I could force him to be in my malodorous presence, I could report it to a neurologist, I could drag him to a psychiatrist.

But mostly, I just take a shower. And I think about the day when inevitably his body will change and he will no longer smell sweet for days at a time. It is then that I will get my revenge. For now, I wait. And use extra deodorant.

No comments: