I have a son. He’s eight.
He likes dirt bikes, welding, fire, olives, figs, coffee, things that blow up, making things blow up, watching things blow up, and talking about making and watching things that blow up.
He doesn’t like being told what to do, having baths, going to bed, or changing his clothes.
He is a creature of habit with a fierce, determined spirit that I need to be crush immediately.
Here is an excerpt of my life with this wonderful, frustrating, beautiful, stubborn, loving child:
Son, I did laundry today, and as you know, we are handling laundry differently in order to save some money. I have been trying to wash our clothes in cold water, but it isn’t working for your bundles ‘o stank. (We’re slang folk.) But hey; that’s okay. I understand that you’re going to get dirty, what with your important work of chasing your friends at school, filling your pockets with sand, and run amuck rabble-rousing. (See: slang.)
But I’ve noticed lately an alarming lack of underwear in your laundry basket. I checked under your bed, and in your drawers, and even behind the furnace. I used to hide things there when I was a teenag…well, that’s a story for another day.
When I couldn’t find them anywhere, I looked again in your top drawer and there they were!
Smelling of Snuggle “Blue Sparkle” fabric softener.
Sponge Bob and Patrick smiled up at me from their brightly coloured nut-pouches. I couldn’t believe that all of your underwear – every single pair, save for one, which I hope you are wearing now - were clean. But that can’t be possible because that would mean that you never change your…ohmygodyou…
Son, you need to change your clothes at least once every 24 hours. Ultimately yes, it is what’s on the inside of a person that counts, but if you have access to soap and water, then you should use it. Clean bodies are a sign of respect to yourself, and to others.
BUT MOSTLY TO YOUR MOTHER.
Because if I’m going to be held prisoner in your bed every night, I’m going to insist on some freshness happening under that blanket, okay? If I have to lie in an Ikea bunk bed like a prisoner in Cell Block Stinky-Shorts, and carry out Vampire Watch duty until you fall asleep, the very least you could do is attempt to make it pleasant for me, scent-wise.
Besides, God forbid you ever get taken to the hospital or suffer a public pants-ing, you’ll thank me for teaching you this.
So, I hope you understand, and now realize that keeping yourself clean is a priority.”
He looked at me, and I think he got it.
I’ve heard that “echoing” is an effective teaching tool, so I asked him, “Okay. So how often should you be changing your clothes, and most importantly, your underwear?
“I KNOW, Mommy. At least once every week.”
I wish he’d take a lesson from his 13 year-old sister, who showers twice daily and always smells like ripe strawberries and bad attitude.