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When did my son go from a sweet-smelling kid to a stinky beast?

When my son was just born, the smell of his newborn head was like some sort of magic drug. I would sniff his head, inhaling the sweet, sweet infant smell while we cuddled or nursed. As he grew up, he maintained this sweetness, mixed with the smell of sunshine, fresh dirt and something uniquely him. But, now? At almost 8 years old my son has turned into a boy, stink and all.

I knew this time was coming. After all, I grew up with a brother six years younger than me. At some point the door to his bedroom shut, but you could still smell a very particular odor as you walked past it down the hallway. Sweat, dirty socks and old Doritos, with a layer of strong cologne on top of it all. I still shudder at the memory. Somehow, though, I had thought my own son would be immune. He would somehow grow up in a fresh-scented bubble.

Alas, we are now at the age of soccer, rock climbing and spending as much time outside as possible. I love it, and I want to foster my son’s excitement for the outdoors. At the same time, have you ever smelled a foot after it’s played soccer for a few hours? It can start out smelling oh-so-sweet, but after spending time trapped in a soccer sock, shin guard and cleat, watch out!

And there’s something different about his smell in general — growing up and hormones, I suppose. When he was a baby and even a toddler, he could go a few days without bathing, but now? Daily baths are pretty much a must, and hair washing happens at least three times a week. His smell certainly isn’t offensive, but it is a… smell. It won’t repel me from snuggling with him, that’s for sure. But, it does help me remind him to “wash carefully, and make sure to get in all those nooks and crannies.”

Because, it’s more than just a smell. It’s an ever-present reminder that he’s growing up. That in no time flat he’ll be that teenager with the even stronger scent, and the desire to close his door and do whatever teenage boys do behind them instead of asking me to read to him or play cards. It’s not just the sweet smell of sunshine that goes away, but the infancy and toddlerhood that leave as well.

So for now, I’m soaking it all in — stinky smell and all. I know that this time is fleeting, but that each age and stage will have their special moments. All I can do is breathe it all in, and just pray I don’t gag too hard.

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