Do you smell that?

In the past, I have written a handful of blogs about the seemingly impossible to answer strange questions of parenthood. There is one that I have ALWAYS wondered about more than the rest, and I can’t be sure if it’s been blogged about here before- but I think it’s worth another mention.

And my puzzling parenting mystery is this: Why don’t small children have a gag reflex when it comes to bad smells?

In my experience as a parent, and my EXTREME aversion to bad smells (insta-gag), I have learned the fine art of breathing through my mouth. Most times, this works perfectly. Diaper changes with liquidy disgusting putrid baby poop aren’t nearly as horrid when you don’t have to smell them.. but while I can breath through my mouth and block out the smell- I know Parker and Holden are both breathing in those poop fumes, and they have always seemed completely unphased by it.
Hell, when Parker was a little younger and had THE worst (and loudest) explosive poops known to man, Holden would walk up to him, bend down, and take in a huge whiff of poop, only to laugh afterward while yelling “EWWWWW!”
If I did that? There would be an even MORE disgusting mess to clean up because you better believe i’d have puked all over Parker.

Is gagging when met with horrible smells and sights a learned trait? I know some people just have stronger stomachs and minds when it comes things of that nature, maybe children just have the strongest stomachs known to man.

I guess I just can’t reconcile it in my head how they don’t find bad smells… bad.

The reason i’ve been pondering this question yet again is because of a very recent, and incredibly awful experience we had over the weekend.

We were out getting something to eat when Holden announced mid-meal that he had to go pee. Because Parker refuses to let Thomas walk away from him when we’re in a public place- taking Holden to the bathroom was my job.
As soon as we opened the door to the bathroom, I was hit with what was honestly THE worst smell I have ever smelled in my entire life. It smelled like someone’s insides were rotting and they walked into the womens bathroom and sprayed the entire contents everywhere. It smelled like every dirty diaper I have ever changed, put into a vacuum sealed room and left to ferment for a year. To steal a line from one of my favorite movies- It smelled like a turd covered in burnt hair.

I was absolutely HORRIFIED. I instantly started gagging. Meanwhile, Holden is just strolling around the bathroom like the air is as fresh as a daisy. None the wiser.
It definitely did NOT help the situation when we entered the only stall available (and there were only 3 total) and Holden points at the toilet and announces “Look! DOODOO!”- it was streaked all over the inside of the toilet.
Honest to God, i’ve never had to fight back puking so hard.

I implemented my technique of just breathing through my mouth in order to power through this potty trip and get out as quickly as possible. This worked only long enough for me to pull Holden’s pants and underwear down.. and then the smell became SO strong that I could taste it. At that moment, I didn’t think I could last any longer. I almost snatched Holden up and yanked him out of that bathroom, pants and underwear around his ankles, to take him back to the table so Thomas could take him to the bathroom instead.
Realizing that was a bad option, I decided against it. Not wanting Holden to sit on that disgusting toilet, I held him mid air and forced him to pee that way. He wasn’t happy about it and kept yelling that he ‘didn’t know how!’ and i’m yelling back at him “PLEASE HURRY OR I’M GOING TO PUKE! THE SMELL IS TOO BAD!!!”
I can not IMAGINE what the people in the stalls next to us were thinking. I don’t know how THEY were handling it without gagging. Then again, they didn’t have the mental vision of diarrhea streaks all over the toilet they were having to use.

And still, through all of the madness- Holden still never mentioned anything about any bad smell. I don’t even know if he had any idea why I was freaking out so bad.
BAFFLED! Literally the worst stench that I have EVER smelled and he didn’t even bat an eyelash.
Baffled and insanely jealous at his masterful non-smelling ways. I need him to teach me that skill!

Posted on December 19, 2010 by Holdin' Holden 3 Comments
Holdin' Holden

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  • Nolan started gagging and coughing after Eli farted the other. He hasn’t seemed to figure out you can walk away from a fart smell either, he just stood there gagging. I guess some kids are immune to stink and others aren’t. He does think fart sounds are hilarious though.

  • lol christine, jordan thinks fart sounds are hillarious too!
    and jenny, i am very curious where this nasty bathroom was!

  • ROFL! It was at Peking Buffet in Hampton!!