A woman once said to me, “Men experience the world through their noses.”
I agree with this. My wife teases me how keen my sense of smell is, and it sometimes baffles me how much my nose knows.
This is true for all humans. Our olfactory powers are prehistoric; we’re talking lizard-brain here. What we smell goes right to our cavemen souls. Which is why, upon my sons’ waking from a night’s sleep, or their afternoon siestas, I get a little sentimental for their baby breath—that sweet, milk-fed, exhale of a tiny human. Instead, I now smell regular morning breath—the same stale breath exhaled from men, like me, who are no longer blessed to get all their food from a bottle or a breast.
It signals to me that my little babies are becoming boys, and will eventually become, men. They’ll eventually shuffle out of bed in the morning to go pee in the toilet, scratch themselves, and stretch. I see glimpses of the men they will be in those waking and falling-asleep moments, when I observe a tiny change in their jawlines, and brows, a trace of hair on their little legs and backs.
For now, there’s still plenty of diapers to change. We’re not in the future yet. My nose still knows when there’s a “mean stinky” in the house, and it definitely knows when a neighbor kid has been by, and left their own diaper in our pails.
I suppose it’s true that we know and savor the smell of our own children, and thus do everything we can to protect them—it’s how the species was able evolve from caves into condos.
Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker.