My daughters morning breath smells like a dead seal pup rotting in a hot summer sun.
Have you ever been to Cape Cross on the Skeleton coast of Namibia?
It is a pretty unremarkable place, nothing more than a small headland on a sparse piece of coastline. You park up, step into the harsh, white light and cool breeze off the Southern Atlantic.
You have been struck already. That same ocean breeze, so fresh, so alive and vital, brings with it the decaying tang of death. It is only going get worse.
A short stroll later and you are there, on the coast. There, a swarming mass of blubbery bodies writhing over black rocks. Barely able to breathe, you want to puke. Seagulls, other marine birds of prey, circle and dive. The dead and the dying, once youthful, now crushed, innard-spewing grotesque representations of themselves, are everywhere.
I face this every morning.
Okay, not the visuals. I think we can all agree that might be a little too much. But the scent, the stench of rotten flesh, that I do have to deal with. And not from just the one of them.
Hazel used to be the champion of stink, but as she has aged she has specialised. There was a cross-over period where she was going from both ends, never quite mastering either, all the while developing a quality and quantity of butt flatulence that can be nothing but admirable. Her morning fish breath has, thankfully, pretty much gone.
Kenny tries, can express oral flatulence to match the best of them, a number I count myself among. She doesn’t offend anything more than the ears though, for those that have sensibilities stretching that far. Her gasses just don’t seem to be as scented nor are they as expressive. As a bonus, my eldest is not one I have ever recoiled from kissing in the morning.
The E-Bomb? I don’t even want to lean in too close! Putrefying, revolting, gag-worthy. She smells like she was sick in her mouth, spat it into a bowl, placed the bowl in the sun for a few hours, re-heated it, mixed in some blue cheese, Parmesan, rotten fish heads and a dead rat or two for good measure, heated it again, to luke-warm, swallowed it then regurgitated, swilled it around like mouthwash before smiling sweetly.
One and Two have been in command of the tooth brushing thing for a long while now, even managing it without having to be reminded or encouraged. Esme can, to an extent, accomplish the task too, but generally needs guidance and assistance. Sure, she is three, so all to be expected. We, as a family, as a unit, need to ensure that brushing her teeth becomes routine, a habit. Not just for her own long term dental well-being. For our sake too.
I want to kiss my kids, to hold them close, to have them kiss me, to have my ear whispered into. I don’t want to feel sick to my gut when it happens.
For many things we are all for individuals finding their own path, developing at their own rate, without being forced or overly coerced. We would rather guide as opposed to order, advise rather than tell. But Esme is commanded to brush her teeth and if I thought she could do it safely, she would be gargling too…Listerine (considers merits of product placement) or whatever other product will kill the bacteria causing the nasty breath. Is it bacteria? Whatever, it must die.
Perhaps I should get the E-Bomb gargling a fine, aged, Single Malt Scotch. I can lean into one of those quite happily thank you very much.
Just as a note, years ago we sat as a family in front of the 6 o’clock news, back in the day when TV1 was the only option. Images of Hillsborough filled the screen, a harrowing, haunting thing for a kid to see, anyone. News that the disaster has eventually led to the police seeking to prosecute a number of the people involved came out today. That won’t erase the memory of what I saw all those years ago, but I hope it does something for the families and people who shared and suffered in that tragic event.