We Don’t Smell Other People’s Bottoms

I overhear Rollie telling Tiller “Smell my finger.”

Having been friends with more boys than girls along the way, all sorts of alarms went off in my head, backed by a “Master of Puppets” soundtrack. (‘m looking at you. You know who you are. Coming out of your girlfriend’s house, when you went in to “see what was taking her so long” when we picked her up on the way to school, and then making me smell your finger? Some scars never go away.)

“Rollie,” I said. “Come here.”

Rollie rolls his eyes (remind me again why I’m not allowed to slap his face?) and comes to stand in front of me.

“Why did you ask Tiller to smell your finger?”

“I didn’t.” [You little liar.]

“Yes, you did. I just heard you. Why?”

“I don’t remember.”

[I'm staring at him and he is staring back at me, rebelliously unblinking and wide-eyed.]

“Why did you say it?”

“Oh, never mind!” He walks away.

“Get back here.” [Try to control voice so it is not a yell.] “I say when we are done. Why did you ask her to smell your finger?”

[Comes back and stares at me.]

“Why? We can stand here all day until you tell me.”

“Because it’s stinky.”

“Why is it stinky?”

“Because i wiped it on my bottom.”

What. The. Fuck.

Is this normal older brother behavior? Am I raising a psychopath?

He got sent to the bathroom to wash his hands and then to his room. I asked Tiller, “Has your brother made you smell his finger before?”

She thinks, eyes on the ceiling.

“No. But he did ask me to smell his bottom one time. I said ‘No.'”

“Good girl. We don’t smell other people’s bottoms.”

Parenting is sometimes completely absurd. It never occurred to me to teach my kids that we don’t smell other people’s bottoms. But it is a lesson they need to know. Sometimes you end up hearing yourself actually saying words like, “We don’t smell other people’s bottoms.” You think, “what the hell has become of me?”

Parenting is fucking hard.

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