Big Kid has always appreciated cleanliness. As a toddler he would watch Baby Einstein and when the goat puppet got paint on himself while painting, he would cry, "OH NO! GOAT MESSY!" with genuine dismay.
As a preschooler, his hands were usually cleaner than a surgeon's. He was a fastidious hand washer, using hot water, sudsy soap and slowly singing the alphabet before finishing. They would do an activity in preschool where they covered the tables in shaving cream and write in it and the very sight of those messy tables would make him turn pale and put his hands behind his back; his teacher sent him into the hallway to learn French with the Canadian assistant instead.
One time we had a poop incident that resulted in him willfully deciding not to poop anymore. It was a big problem.
It used to make me nervous. It was like living with a little Niles Crane and seemed a symptom of something. But he's grown out of it, into a slightly more clean version of your average child. little kid pretty much counterbalances any benefit of this, but it's still nice.
He loves a good shower and is often showered and dressed by the time I get up on the weekends. So to be nice, I offered to buy him some manly soap and he seemed excited about the idea. Against my better judgment, I went with Axe body wash, deciding it was a rite of passage of some sort. I brought it home, he took one whiff and said, "Why did you think I'd wash in toxic waste?" and set it back down, forgotten. I was relieved, even if I did waste $4.
Soon after that he came home and said that another 4th grade teacher must be mean because she makes everyone in her class wear deodorant.
"Well, it's probably not so much that she's being mean, but around your age sometimes kids start to go through puberty and that can make your sweat smell really bad. It's probably easier to ask everyone to smell good than to point it out to the individuals who may not notice. I have not noticed any sign of you smelling different, though, so you don't need any."
He thought about that for a minute.
"If you want deodorant, for whatever reason, I could get you some. It smells nice. Then you would be ready. But if not, no biggie, you don't need it." I offered.
"Yes. I would like some deodorant," he decided.
I promised we would go to the store to pick some out. I felt a little conflicted--happy that body odor wouldn't be sneaking up on me and that we were able to discuss it easily and sad that we're already picking out deodorant. Although it seems small and silly, it is a minor rite of passage.
This morning, Mr. Ashley found a sample stick of deodorant and offered it up. Big Kid smelled it. "Too manly," he declared.
And again I felt sweet relief that we weren't quite there yet. Not to Axe body wash and smelling manly.
He ended up choosing something that smelled clean, and I can live with that.