Helping to guide our prodigy through to successful adulthood must surely be the most important job any parent has. In fact, it sort of defines the role.
From little things like showing respect and courtesy to the big things like not putting out a hand to lean against the urinal. There’s always something.
And with the teenage years looming large, there’s no time to rest on our laurels.
“We’ve bought some new fancy body gel, if you want to try that,” I explained to Miss11, who was coming into the bathroom as I was leaving, “or there’s the soap your sister obviously dropped on the floor and couldn’t find to pick up.”
“It’s okay,” said Miss11, “I’m only only having a quick shower tonight.”
That stopped me in my tracks.
“You need soap either way,” I explained. “Plus, you’re getting older now. Your body will start to produce odours which will strip paint and become flamible in confined spaces. You need to wash yourself well. Especially where you’ve got or are expecting hair.” Talk about face-planting into an awkward moment. “Like under your arms.”
Shower and bath time is always a challenge in this house. Seven people to get through between dinner and bed, plus a woefully inadequately sized hot water system, means we go a little boot camp on the kids.
“Hurry up,” I told Miss8 the other night as I picked up a fresh, if still pen stained, Miss3 to carry her to her bedroom for dressing. And don’t be thinking how cute the image of a dad carrying his towel wrapped daughter is because my role is more car restraint than roller-coaster.
I heard the shower door close behind me and Miss8 shout something.
“What?” I asked over my shoulder.
“Done,” she repeated.
I hadn’t reached the bathroom door yet.
“The hell you are,” I explained civilly, as Miss3 attempted to release herself by pushing my chin back into my skull with both hands. Seriously, this from the same eight year old who can lie in a bath for as long as it takes to go from near scalding to arctic ocean.”You need to use soap. Not to mention a bit of bloody water.”
And now tonight’s effort with her older sister.
“But I might like it,” Miss11 tried explaining to me.
“Like what?” I asked, incredulously, and for some reason the song Smells Like Teen Spirit started up in my head.
“The smell from under my arms.”
You ever have one of those moments when you can see a future for your kid which horrifies you so much you can’t speak. I was suddenly reminded of someone I knew who had such air staining BO I could tell when they were around before I’d even spotted them. And I mean from another room.
I have never understood how people can’t smell themselves. I sometimes get a bit wafty/gaggy and become paranoid if I’m not careful I’ll accidentally kill an old lady. Yet when I ask other staff if they can smell me (we have that sort of relationship) and they insist they can’t.
How bad must these room-emptiers smell to themselves if other people think they’re so rank?
The mind boggles even as the eyes do.
Fortunately, Tracey happened past at this moment and, grasping what the problem was, came to my rescue. Actually, given the long term consequences she was potentially facing, it’s truer to say she came to my daughter’s rescue.
“It’s not like fart,” Tracey explained. We are all class. “It’s not like you’ll like your own.”
Or is it? Maybe that’s why some people walk around smelling like dumpsters.
Just hopefully not my kids.
“Raising a family on little more than laughs.”