As a parent, you get to observe and even participate in so many wonderful milestones as your child grows up.
The day you must tell your kid he needs deodorant is not one of them. (And kids, if you’re reading at home: this will happen to every one of you. Every. One.)
Laugh if you want to, but especially if you’re the parent of a boy, you face several obstacles in this conversation:
- You have to open by telling someone you care about that he smells;
- You have to explain why;
- Your tween boy may be developing the glands of an adolescent, but he is still in some ways very much a little boy, particularly when it comes to matters of hygiene. Thus, he will regard any addition to his daily routine as an insupportable imposition;
- Just, generally, “Come ON, Mom!”
When our moment came for this conversation a few months ago, I learned the value of advance preparation–mixed with a bit of luck. Over the past year, eleven-year-old “Jack” and I had had several discussions about puberty. (Actually, if I’m to describe them accurately, I should write that I talked and Jack sat, nodding occasionally, until I demanded he acknowledge me with sound; at those points he said, “Uh-huh.”) Our most recent talk had just taken place the previous week, and then a sporting goods company sent a sample of a men’s deodorant in the mail along with a soccer jersey he’d ordered. I dropped the sample in the basket I keep in our guest bathroom.
Two days later, Jack came home from school and walked into my office. I crossed the room to talk to him.
Sniff, sniff. The air had definitely changed.
I waited a moment, then said, as lightly as I could manage, “Hey, Jack, remember that conversation we had last week about starting to need deodorant one day?”
“Today’s the day, buddy.”
That was it. I didn’t have to say anything to embarrass him because we’d already talked about it in a larger context.
Of course, incorporating the deodorant into his daily practice is another story. We’ve established a routine: I remind him, then he rolls his eyes and trudges up the stairs…
It’s just another sign that my little boy is growing up.