Wednesday, February 27, 2008

At Least They'll Fit In With The Other Diesel Mechanics

It has come to my attention that the Bird boys lack certain fundamental hygiene skills.

It's nothing I smell -- we undoubtedly consume more Speed Stick per capita than most households in Fox Valley. I'll never need air freshener as long as Billy and Ben and their manly-yet-fresh aromas are around.

No, the clues are more subtle than mere B.O.

The first came a couple of years ago, when Billy began to develop acne. When I bought him special cleanser, he couldn't seem to get the hang of what he was supposed to do with it. That's when I learned that he didn't actually wash his face. He just let the shower run over it and called it clean.

(Perhaps this misunderstanding of product usage is genetic. Years ago my mother and I ascertained after exhaustive investigation that the reason my father's hair always looked peculiar was that he thought cream rinse was to be used to rinse shampoo out of hair. The man was wearing a 20-year accumulation of Tame and Prell.)

Then there was Ben's hair. He's got more of it than the other three of us put together, and I began to notice that about two-thirds of it wasn't wet when he finished shampooing. It turns out that he was only washing the top of his head, not the sides. We've repeatedly discussed the fact that all of it gets dirty, but I haven't seen much improvement.

The boys' hygiene is weighing heavy on my mind this week, as they dress rehearse for their roles in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Ben is PigPen, which means the girls in the cast take great delight in smearing his face, neck, hands, and arms with all manner of brown cosmetics to make him look appropriately filthy. (Boys who won't do theatre because you have to wear makeup are missing a vital point: it's the girls in the cast who know how to apply it. You don't see football players sitting there being rubbed on by several girls, at least not while they're actually playing football.) He's arrived home each of the last several nights a complete mess.

The problem is that when he comes down to breakfast the next morning, he's still a complete mess. Twice I've had to grab a washcloth and start scrubbing to get the "dirt" off his arms and neck. He seems to think this is much ado about nothing.

Bob and I have done our best to coach on these things, but I fear we've waited too late. Only a couple of neat-freak girlfriends can save our boys now.

I wish I'd been as smart as that clever Anne Glamore, who writes Tales From My Tiny Kingdom. Earlier this week Anne pulled on her bathing suit, instructed a particularly grimy young son to don his, and took him into the shower for a body washing workshop. (Here, read for yourself. She and her brood are ever so entertaining.)

Unfortunately, 17-year-old Billy and 14-year-old Ben are way too old for us to legally teach them the same way.


jennifer h said...

My son is 9. Unless I check, he also only washes the top of his head. I also have to remind him to wash his face, or it would never get done.

Please tell me it's not too late to turn things around!

Hilarious about your father using the creme rinse that way.

I found you through Hotfessional, and I'll be back!

Janie said...

Oh, Lord. That's funny! I bet Ben runs from Mom carrying the washcloth, too.


Betsy Bird said...

After I posted last night, Ben came home from dress rehearsal absolutely the filthiest yet. He was covered in "dirt"/makeup, plus had a hair full of gel the girls had applied to make his hair look messy (I mean, messier). He was absolutely dumbstruck when I insisted he was that stuff off before he got in bed. Jennifer H, I would urge you to act immediately to teach the proper usage of soap and water. Your window of opportunity is closing.