J – Mummy, you smell.

Me – Oh?

J sniffing – Mummy, you smell of rubbish.

Me – sighs.

Ok.  I admit that today I may be a bit wiffy (as J likes to say) but it is with good reason and I honestly don’t have ‘personal hygiene issues’.  Today I have been sanding and then painting the woodwork in T’s room, which has been fairly warm work.  However I had finished and was attempting to get J to stand still whilst I pinned up his cricket trousers ready for nets this evening (yes I know I should have done them days ago), that was when I offended his olfactory senses and the above exchange occurred.

Whilst any decent human (by which I mean an adult) would lean slightly away from the offending odour and ignore it, perhaps to whisper discreetly into my ear on departure that I might wish to ‘freshen up’, the kids lean into the scent and then make a massive deal about it.

The thing about being a parent is that you always need to be on the ball to face these comments so that you can come back with a remark that stops your offspring in their tracks, perhaps an observation that makes them think, or a one line that makes them laugh.  Even, and I know that this may be particularly rare, a comment that leaves them thinking that you must be the wisest person in the whole world (just once, please just once).

The problem is that being a parent is so mentally draining and has been so physically demanding, that most of the time you’re lucky if you remember the name of the child stood in front of you (both of mine respond to a variety of names which covers everyone in our extended family).

It has to be said that now my children are getting older, being a parent isn’t quite so physically draining.  I don’t want to brag but I rarely get woken in the middle the night and the kids don’t often come in to my bed before 8am.  Then, during daylight hours the children are often happy to entertain each other.  I no longer have to follow them around the house ensuring they don’t accidentally break something or kill themselves, or think of things to do that a 3 year old would be able to cope with.  With energy no longer expended by chasing a toddler round the house with a soiled nappy hanging off, it can be put to a more constructive use and decorating a room becomes a tiring reality.

This was today’s problem.  Physical exhaustion causes mental stagnation and with an inquisitive, mentally challenging young family this is not a good state in which to fall.  I should have had a quick retort to J’s observation that I stank.  A quick put down.  A comment to make him think ‘oh, maybe I shouldn’t always say what I think out loud’.  Or failing that a one liner to leave him chuckling to himself after I swept from the room carrying cricket trousers aloft.  The line I came out with?  AFTER J left the room?

Me – Our rubbish must smell of fragrant roses then.