A dear, dear friend once gave me a check list of things to follow as the mother of a boy.
One, was to expect to never at any given time have enough food in the house. Even if I had just been to the grocery store, there would never be enough food to fill the vacuous black hole of a boy’s stomach.
She was right about that, as I feel like most days, all I do is feed him.
She also warned my house would never be clean again.
Heck, it hadn’t been clean before, so that didn’t really bother me.
Her next heeding was to always check his pockets because sometimes, living things may find shelter there. Especially if he is wearing pants with a lot of pockets.
“And you don’t want to find out the hard way that amphibians cannot survive a washing machine cycle,” she cautioned.
By the time Cole reached double digits on his age, I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief.
He hadn’t stuffed a frog or anything else living in the pockets of his pants, leaving the critters to their natural habitats where he would study them each night, armed with a flashlight and a journal.
He wasn’t particularly fascinated with violent video games or movies as some of his peers had been. Sure, he liked his Nintendo DS but it was not an everyday toy.
He loves old cars, and has a definite opinion on what kind of car he was going to get when he could drive at age 30.
All in all, he has been a rarity of sorts, being well behaved, thinking on his own, and having his own opinions on things that sometimes rivaled my own.
So, when he my precious little lump of boyish charm decided he loathed baths, I was shocked.
This is the child that once used my whole brand new bottle of fragrant body wash in his bath – so he could “smell good for the ladies,” he declared. He was in pre-k at the time.
Just a year ago, I was buying him banana scented Minion body wash and now, I am arguing with him as to why he needs a shower every day.
“I don’t smell yet,” he will say.
“Cole, you don’t wait until you smell – you take a bath every day!”
“Well, I don’t do anything to get dirty,” he said.
“You shed dead skin daily, it’s mixed with oil, and dirt, and other stuff your body produces.”
This was science and instead of my child finding it gross, he exclaimed, “Cool!” and wonder if he could watch it happen.
“No,” I sighed, not really sure.
I could not relate to this new-found aversion to cleanliness. As a child, any time a bath was drawn, I would get in the tub, even when it wasn’t for me. I would beg to take a third, sometimes fourth bath as a child because I loved being clean.
But I was a little girl. A little girl who propped up on her stuffed animals and read them books all day while eating Little Debbies.
A little girl who never broke a sweat, and seldom went outdoors.
This is a little boy – a very busy, active, always outside little boy who sweats.
“But I don’t stink – yet,” he will say.
And that’s another thing: little boys seem to like noxious odors that can gag a 100-lb German shepherd.
Cole took his shoes off one night and wiggled his socked toes, pointing a foot at Ava.
The big dog promptly fell over and shuddered.
He giggled with glee.
“Cole, get in the shower before you get in bed,” I said.
“Never!” he cried.
He tells me he has a protective layer going on and when he takes a shower, it removes the barrier between him and the outer world, allowing germs and the like to go through his pores.
“Do you have any idea how long it takes to build up a good solid barrier?” he asked in all seriousness.
Bathing the 100-lb German shepherd is actually easier than finagling him to get a shower; and she will nearly kill you.
For Mother’s Day, my child gifted me with Mom coupons, telling me I could redeem them for showers. “Cole, you are supposed to take a shower every day,” I replied.
“Well, you only got two coupons for that, so not sure how that will work out.” The coupons were specifically for a “Scrub –a-Dub Hug,” which meant he’d get a shower and even hug me later instead of complain about the cruelty of water and soap.
I fuss, I beg, I plead, I bargain – boy, do I bargain – all to no avail.
“He’s a little boy,” his father says. “Little boys all go through that stage where they hate baths and they want to see how gross they can get.”
When would this stage end? How long would it last? He was enjoying being as icky and gross as he could get away with.
“Don’t worry,” Lamar said. “Once he gets interested in a girl – and I mean a real girl his own age – he will start caring if he has a bath or not.”
This did not comfort me at all.
The only way to get my little boy, all snips, snails, and puppy dog tails, to care about whether or not he was clean was if he was interested in a girl?
If only that checklist came with instructions on how to handle the heartache of little boys growing up, I would be better prepared.