“Mommy, you don’t smell good.”
It’s bedtime. Bug and I are snuggled under a mountain of pink blankets, ready to read the next chapter in our book. Now she leans back, way back and off to the side, her nose plugged.
“Daddy smells better than you,” She says, matter of factly, “Can he do my bedtime?”
Shaken, I lift my arm and inspect the situation. Nothing offensive to be found there. I cup my hand around my mouth and nose and exhale. It’s the end of the day and dinner lingers, but my breath wouldn’t wilt any flowers or raise any dead.
“What do you mean I don’t smell good? I demand, “I don’t smell bad.”
Her answer is short and plain, “Daddy smells better. Can he do my bedtime?”
I’m torn between hurt and humor. She’s so earnest, so serious, in her request, I’m sure she doesn’t intend injury; she’s merely stating what she believes to be obvious. And who am I to force her to endure odoriferous offense?
I trudge to the living room and report our predicament. J is not torn; he sees all humor, and seizes on the opportunity to tease. He leans in and takes a whiff; the corners of his mouth twitch with a smirk as he nods his head knowingly and deadpans, “Yeah, you should do something about that!”
I conjure my inner middle schooler and slap at him, missing when he jumps back, laughing. Together we walk back to Bugaboo, still nestled in her covers.
We press her for explanation, she sighs and says, “I think boys just smell better than girls. And,” she pauses, contemplating her words, “Mommy,” she addresses me, “Daddy showers everyday. Maybe you could try that.”
J has to turn around; his composure is fading, fast.
“I shower!” I defend. And then I realize: I shower at night, after bedtime. When it can be done gloriously alone, but that means it’s out of her sight. I tell her this. She’s unswayed.
J has slipped into her bed now, book in hand, and she snuggles tight under his arm. She turns her head into him and inhales deeply,, “Mmmmm,” she mutters. And it dawns on me: it isn’t that I smell, it’s that I don’t smell. I opt for all things unscented; J slathers on coats of yummy smelling deodorants, after-shaves, and detergents. When you breath him in, he’s all musk, and spice, and warmth.
I say goodnight and make my way back to the living room, where I find an empty sofa and abandoned remote. I take control of both.
Turns out smelly has it’s perks.