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I Want to Smell Him

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My 5-year-old has a "Blankie." "He" is green. He is worn through. In another life, he was a washcloth. He has a very distinctive smell.

child clutching blanket

Mimi Schmir: You or I might not like this smell -- in fact, we might call it more of an "odor," but to my 5-year-old, it is The Best Smell Ever.

This has been going on for a while. We didn't start out with Blankie. He showed up a year or two ago. Out of nowhere, really. We refer to "him" as "Blankie," instead of "Fred," or "Sam." But he might as well be a Fred because he has all the personality of an actual person. Blankie gets sad. Blankie gets lost (and after panicked insanity, found). Blankie takes a bath.

Actually, Blankie only takes a bath in the middle of the night when I (or husband roused from coma) wrestle him out of sleeping 5-year-old's hands, wash him, dry him, then stick him back under the smelliest part of said 5-year-old's body. "Make sure he's going to stink," I say, with just a tinge of hysteria.

Because a 5-year-old will know if Blankie is washed. He will call us on it. He will scream and cry and ask if someone gave Blankie a bath. And we, rational, well-adjusted, ALWAYS ON TOP OF THINGS, will lie. Through our teeth. Because we are excellent parents. We watch the news. We know about germs. Oink.

For the sake of modesty, we will call said 5-year-old "H." Of course, when "H" reads this someday, when he's sitting in his college dorm room with a case of beer (God help me) and his inebriated friends, when he decides (or more likely, his hairy friend Stewart decides) to Google his mother just for the "Come on, Dude" (will they even say "Dude" then?) hell of it, the point is, "H," of course, will know who he is.

He has blond curls. He melts hearts. Girls (and women) love him. One day, a little 4-year-old friend of his takes down her underpants and sits on his face (her idea, not his. He is duly embarrassed. We, coma husband and I, are out of town and are thus blameless). He has a wicked temper and a fearless nature and the pediatrician calls him "Goniff," which means troublemaker in Yiddish.

And when school starts in September, he brings Blankie to class.

They are very understanding. It is a progressive school. They believe in letting the child find their own way. Eventually, we all end up at the same place, it is just how we get there. It is the journey. He has now progressed through almost two months of kindergarten and we are all adjusting. Blankie is adjusting too. For the first week or so, he stays in class. He goes to all public gatherings. I suspect he goes to P.E., either hidden in a pocket or stuffed down the front of H's pants.

One morning, H's teacher makes a suggestion. Blankie should sit in H's cubby and wait for him.

Separation is tough. The first few days of this involve a lot of crying and renting of garments (mine) and concerned looks from other parents. Once in a while, I get an e-mail or a phone call from another dad or mom. "I was coming out of the library and I saw him run over to his cubby and pick it up." "You mean, Blankie?" I say. "Yes, and he stuck his nose in it and took a giant whiff. Don't worry, he seems okay."

I am not worried. I know that he and Blankie are working it out.

I ask him, though. I say, "H, how are things going up there? I heard you leave Blankie in the cubby now?"

He says, "Yes. It is very hard. But I can come out and visit if I need to."

I say, "Does that make you feel better? Knowing that he's still there?" (I think maybe he has separation issues. I know I do. I try to think about the journey. P.S. Just once, could the journey end in Paris?).

He looks at me, like I am the stupidest person ever on planet Parent. "MOM," he says, as though this is the most obvious thing in the world, "I want to smell him."

I realize as he says this that I have my face buried in his curls. They need to be washed.

Okay. Point taken.

next: What Parenting Style Do You Use with Your Teen?
6 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sara November 10, 2009, 7:27 AM

I can totally relate with the stinky stuffed animal. My three year old daughter has two stuffed animals that she has a similar thing going with. She also does not like them washed and we also do the sneaky washes when she’s not aware of it. No matter how much we wash them they still have this awful odor. But it’s an odor she seems to like!

On the other hand your comment about the little girl who took her underpants off and sat on your sons face… that genuinely concerns me. I keep rereading that part because I figure I must be reading it wrong. That child has clearly experienced or seen things that she should not have and I find it incredibly disturbing. I’m not sure you could just seem to shrug that off. That is NOT normal behavior! A four year old child does not think to just take off her underpants and sit on someone‚Äôs face!!! Something ahs been done to this child or seen by this child that should NEVER have happened to give her such an idea!

Stacey_Ann November 10, 2009, 8:06 AM

I also can relate to this blog..i have a 2 year old who is inlove with his teddy!..but i also have to state the it was a little uncomfortable reading about the 3 year old taking off her underpants and sitting on your son’s face. What the heck was that about???…I too had to read this over and over to make sure i had full understanding. Can you pls clerify this pls?

Anonymous November 10, 2009, 8:33 AM

smell his butt?

agreed November 10, 2009, 8:40 AM

I think the 4 year old sitting on his face is a big concern that seems to be laughed off. I think this article would have been way better without including that. Quite frankly it changed the entire tone of this blog. The context in which she said it was like this 4 year old did it b/c “girls love him.” Sitting naked on someone’s face is more or less a sexual act and not an innocent way for children to show they “love” another child.

What??? November 11, 2009, 5:39 AM

I read this to my husband to see if he thought I was taking your comment about the little girl too seriously. My husband was uncomfortable even listening to it. How can you just seem to laugh this off??? What was the point in even including that in this story? I’m tempted to forward your article to social services in your area. This little girl needs some sort of help. What she did IS A BIG DEAL! That is NOT normal behavior!

Tina January 10, 2011, 8:16 PM

I agree with everyone!
The writer should send social services to the house of the 4y/o girl who did that, at least just to check on things because it is deffinitly Not normal!

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