What IS that smell?

Those are probably the words I have said the most as a parent of nearly 20 years.

“What’s that smell?”

“Where is that smell coming from?”

“Who made that smell?”

“Dear God, open the windows to get the smell out! I don’t care if it’s 10 degrees outside!”

In college, I took courses like play writing and Shakespeare. I should have taken the CSI investigative skills course. Which wasn’t offered.

It starts with that cute little newborn. They gurgle at you. Then poo. Then you say “Ew! What’s that?”

Then they spit up on you, and two days later, you’re wondering why your bed smells like a dead gallon of milk.

They become toddlers and eat real food, and they poo. And you go “OMG!” and become wishful for the fresh scent of breastfed baby poo that smells a bit like buttered popcorn.

Then your two year old walks by, you hear a spritzing sound and “Ew!” and smell his breath. Yep, that was Fabreeze he just sprayed into his mouth. You call Poison Control, and when asked “Are you sure he drank it?”, you respond with “Well, the kid’s got really fresh breath.” Then you have to give the guy on the other end permission to laugh, as trying not to laugh is causing him to choke.

The two year old will be fine by the way.

One hot summer day, you’ll get into your car and realize it smells like death. That would be the sippy cup of milk that rolled under the seat last week. There will be that first time you open it, to try to salvage the cup. You realize that no cup is worth smelling that death smell, and sippy cups left in hot cars are disposable items.

A few years later, you realize you’re surrounded by little boys who smell…well…like little boys. And little girls who like to smear poo. So you open the door to the pink and white nursery to a wall of stench. “OMG what’s that smell!” you yell. Even though you know what that smell is, because you’re still in denial about the poo smearing little princess.

And for those of you with little boys, you spent the next four years going “Why does the bathroom smell like a urinal???” while muttering about aim and bleaching the toilet yet again. Which just means your bathroom smells like a bleachy urinal.

Then they’re rugrats of various sizes, and one night, you put them all in the same bedroom with a video to watch as you paint another bedroom. It seems like a genius plan, containing the lot of urchins, until you smell a familiar smell.

“I know that smell…what’s that smell….”

And you find your youngest child spraying herself down with Fabreeze as the siblings sit around her, completely unaware of what’s going on. You’ll also learn that Fabreeze is hard to get out of hair, and your trusty bottle of blue Dawn liquid dishwashing soap will do the trick. Safe on ducks AND children.

The years begin to blur. Your olfactory system is honed into a razor-sharp tool.

“Why do I smell nail polish?”

“What died in your room?”

“Who stepped in dog poo? Quick! Check your shoes!”

It’s become somewhat of a norm now. At least for me. My husband doesn’t quite get it.

But one night, as we were watching tv, I announced “I smell something burning.”

I wandered through the house. Pinpointed the source – the dishwasher. A plastic spoon was cuddled up to the heating coil, melting as the dishwasher ran.

“Wow. I’m impressed.” my husband said.

Yes, I have the sniffing skills of a German Shepherd working at the airport, checking luggage for bombs and drugs at this point. And baby poo doesn’t even phase me anymore.