Dear Dave

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Fee, fie, foe, fum!

Dear Dave,

No, I don't know where the smell is coming from. Sorry. If you've cleaned the carpets, the upholstery and the children, you may be stuck with it. I suppose it's possible one of them threw up in a drawer and didn't tell you. Or maybe they taped a banana to the back of a curtain a month ago. Who knows?

I wouldn't worry about it. Invest in some scented candles, open the windows whenever you can and burn toast on a regular basis. If it's really desperate, you could always spray the house with air-freshener. This last option is, however, the olfactory equivalent of wearing a toupee - it's not going to convince anyone and they're just going to wonder what you're hiding underneath. Better to shave everything off and go bald with pride - or, in this case, get creative and make a real stink. Buy a pet, take up home-brewing, creosote your wardrobe, whatever you like!

After all, it's still a year until you potty train Daisy and it'll probably be another year after that before you feel entirely confident about keeping your socks dry on a daily basis. There's no point doing anything drastic like buying a new sofa for a while yet.

Not that that would do any good anyway...

Yep, don't think you can simply move house when Daisy turns five and leave the stench behind. Somehow, despite all my children being out of nappies, toilet trained, able to wipe their own bottoms and generally capable of keeping their dribble in their mouths, the aroma is getting worse.

Up until recently, I could maybe have blamed this stench on lingering stains of curdled milk left over from when they spilled their no-spill cups as toddlers or I could have passed it all off as the residual whiff of bodily fluids which overflowed when they were babies. Unfortunately, now the weather is getting warmer, the real problem is obvious. When I come down to the lounge on a Saturday morning, the children have usually been playing in there for quite a length of time already. The combination of kids, closed windows and a couple of hours of sunshine leaves the air somewhat... chewy. There's also something of an odour. It's a cloying mix of stale sweat and farts.


To be fair, not much of it is Marie's fault. She's going through a relatively sweet-smelling stage in between being a toddler and a school child. It's also possible that our lounge has developed the ability to spontaneously produce methane. Since no one is prepared to claim responsibility, I can think of no other reason why the place constantly smells of bottom burps.

Oh hang on, perhaps the boys just stink. Excuse me while I check...

Goes and sniffs one of them. Passes out.

Several minutes later...

Erm, yeah... They totally pong.

They also don't care:

Fraser was away at Boys' Brigade camp at the weekend and we were nervous how he might get on. He hasn't been to anything similar before and we weren't sure how he'd react to being in a strange place with new rules and lots of people he didn't know very well. On a more practical level, he gets disastrously travel sick and they were going to be doing lots of toing-and-froing in minibuses. We doped him with travel pills and crossed our fingers.

Happily, he had a great time. He also avoided hurling... the minibus anyway.

He woke up at 4 am Sunday morning and spewed. When he told me this on his return, I was rather eager to get his pyjamas and sleeping bag into the washing machine.

"It's OK," he replied. "They're clean. I wasn't sick on myself - I was sick on the mattress and over onto the floor."

I relaxed a little. "That doesn't sound too bad."

"Uh-huh," agreed Fraser, "it didn't even get the person in the bottom bunk."

I tensed again. The rather belated addition of this little detail made me wonder what else might be missing from Fraser's account. "Are you sure you weren't sick on your clothes and sleeping bag?"

"The leaders wiped them down. They don't need washed."

"Er... I still think they should be washed and you should have a bath tonight."

This made Fraser grumpy. "I don't need a bath - I got wiped down too. I want to wear the same pyjamas tonight."

I fished around in his bag and pulled out his pyjama top. "Really? Even with this large patch of caked sick on the sleeve?"

"Oh, I didn't see that," he said but didn't actually seem that deterred from wearing it.

I noticed the offending item had been left loose in the bag with all his other clothing and his trainers. Everything was contaminated. I sighed. "I'm going to put the washing machine on and then it's bath-time, OK?"


"'Cos I say so. Get moving..."

Against this kind of attitude, there isn't much to be done. I guess when the boys are older, there might be some hope of masking the stink with deodorant but I'm reluctant to go down that road too soon. It's just personal air-freshener after all. It might make them smell of mountain streams but they'll still be sweaty and farty underneath. At least at the moment people can detect this from a distance and thus receive some warning not to get too close. Leaving them smelly is a public service...

So, really, don't stress about that faint scent of wet fish you can't track down. Even if you do eradicate it, your kids will doubtless replace it with something else before long. Embrace the stink! Make cabbage soup, juggle with rotten eggs, fart whenever you like! Your friends without children won't understand and will think you're mad but, let's face it, they think that already. Just go wild.

All the best. I'm off to purchase a sheep.

Yours in a woman's world,


PS Excuse of the Week:

And the award goes to... Fraser! When asked why there was a trail of blood drops beginning on the sofa, leading across the lounge carpet and out onto the hall carpet, he replied, "I didn't realise my nose was bleeding until I got a tissue. I thought it was snot."

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