Friday, September 5, 2014

Odor Control

My kid stinks. Not his attitude: his body. But he can't smell it on himself. When it first started happening, I tried not to hold it against him. But soon, I didn't want to hold anything against him, including myself. How do you avoid hugging your stinky kid when he wants to be hugged?

Of course, it's not his fault. He's a teenager--it comes with the territory, and we made sure to tell him that. We explained that when wet sweat and hormones mix with bacteria in a warm place, it becomes a petri dish of growth and stink. Then we set out to help him manage it. We tried deodorant. We tried deodorant soap. We tried daily showers. We tried a combination of all three. I've also read that drinking lots of water helps, and antibacterial wipes can come in handy after gym if there's no time (or desire) to shower after class. Finally, we decided he has to shower every morning, not before bed, because physiologically, he is only capable of remaining stink-free for about 18 hours post-shower. This seemed to do the trick.

As this is my first-born child, the whole situation is new to me. But apparently it's a widespread issue that impacts families, peers and even teachers, as a high school teacher friend recently pointed out to me. She was scheduled to spend an 87-degree day hiking in the company of a group of teenagers, subjecting her to multiple cases of body odor. And she was not at all happy about it.

But how does one approach the parents of stinky teens and have them instruct their progeny on the mechanics of their changing bodies, and their responsibility to maintain order when in the company of others? Or should teachers be offering tips and tricks to their students on using wipes, re-applying deodorant and showering daily?

Personally, I think that goes above and beyond a teacher's duties, even if she is looking out for the well-being of her students (in addition to trying to maintain a healthy classroom that's conducive to work). So parents, listen up! Take a whiff! Save your teen the embarrassment of being told by peers that they are smelly, and spare their instructors the uncomfortable job of a hot classroom full of B.O. After all, aren't raging hormones and late-summer heat enough for them to contend with when trying to educate our kids?


ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) said...

When our kids are just about done with 4th grade and about to start middle school, they get the puberty class (pre-sex ed, which comes later, in 7th/8th grade) and all kids come home with a travel size deodorant.

I have never had the courage or wherewithal to tell my students they needed to bathe every day or whatever, but I know many of my colleagues have been good about this. Bless them.

On the homefront, I discovered that it helps A LOT when the kid starts becoming interested in the opposite sex (or same sex, whatever, you catch my drift). Suddenly my oldest didn't need to be told to take a shower anymore, he just did it. I can't be sure the same will be true with my middle child, however, who, when he was little, we discovered he would just put a new pair of socks over his old ones instead of, you know, changing them. One day I found out he had 3 pairs of socks on. (I really don't understand the lengths kids will go through to avoid some tasks- although I'm sure I did similar things).

Overall, though, I'm all for being blunt with my kids. "You're older, you smell, that's just the way it is."

RachelP said...

I can relate, and yes, just telling it like it is MAY help, but it may not...until they care what others (potential dates?) think!