Lost boys and their aromatic world

Scott Dunlop
Scott Dunlop

Peter Pan must have been quite a ripe-smelling little boy. In fact, his whole crew of Lost Boys probably stank out their hideout under the tree. In my experience, boys can be extremely resistant to hygiene basics.

I’m not outing my own kids - although they do try to get away with wearing the same socks all day to school and then to bed, but simply observing the reluctance children (and that can include girls) have in performing those basic tasks which make us socially acceptable.

As a teen I was fortunate enough to have a pool in the back garden. Between the pool and the sea, I was constantly in and out of the water. I think my logic went like this: I was in the pool, I smell like chlorine, so I must be clean, right? Why get another towel wet when I can just keep on going?

My parents assumed that I was bathing or showering, so I got away with not doing so for (this is so gross, looking back) days or even weeks.

There’s an odd trick some teens have. Once puberty takes hold, the deodorant becomes a magic wand of cleanliness. It can deceive parents into thinking their teens are staying clean, but the clouds of pine-smelling freshness dissipate eventually, and then the truth gets out.

There are questions I ask of my children every day. Have you showered? Have you put your dirty clothes in the basket? Have you brushed your teeth and hair? Is that a clean pair of socks? Have you washed your hands after flushing?

Questions Peter Pan can’t have heard too many times. I suspect that his outfit was probably an entirely different colour to start off with and it just ended up green by default.

But even the most hygiene-resistant kids grow up. The questions start to pay off. Even now I can picture my mum at the front door in the dusk calling us in from our games of hide-and-seek. Baaaaathtime, she’d call, and we’d slink inside.

Hopefully my kids will one day think back to these daily interrogations with the same fondness.

But first I need to look for lost socks under the beds in among the dust bunnies and tissues. If I’m not back in an hour, send help!

Do your children also try to resist basic hygiene? Please tell us your secrets for getting them clean, fresh and ready for the outside world. Send your tips to chatback@parent24.com and you could win a R250 online voucher!

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