There’s a reason that kids impulsively giggle every time they fart. Farting is hilarious. It can be loud. It can be stinky. It’s funniest when it’s both.
We don’t really grow out of that. I’m in my 30s, and I still find myself masking a smirk if I let a “silent but deadly” one go on a crowded train or in an elevator while surreptitiously seeing if anyone catches a whiff with a sudden look of disgust or quick finger under the nose. (There’s a reason Dr. Seuss said, “Adults are just outdated children.”)
But in the adult world, flatulence is often embarrassing, like when I’m in my office at work, and it’s either loud enough for a co-worker to hear or foul enough for someone to notice if they get too close. If there’s little chance that someone might notice, I’m not even always aware that it happens. My 4-year-old takes care of the times that I forget though.
He always notices.
I read a trivia question recently that said the average person passes gas 14 times a day. I told a friend that recently, and she suggested that we see if that fact had merit the following day. Either that factoid was completely wrong or we are just both overachievers, as we more than doubled that number — each.
Not only does my preschooler notice all those times that I actually fart, but he will also assume I did when he hears or smells something that even slightly resembles one. Creaky door hinges, bubble gum pops, or walking near a manhole will inevitably lead to the accusatory yell of “Mommy, you farted!” while I try to recreate the fart-like sound to prove that I actually didn’t.
But it’s an unstoppable impulse. It’s like the kid simply cannot just ignore something that he feels deserves this grand pronouncement, regardless of whether we’re standing in line at Costco, at a birthday party full of women I’d like to try to be mom friends with, or within earshot of an entire park full of people.
Each time this happens outside of the privacy of our home, I shoot him the look that all women instantly possess the moment they become mothers while sharply repeating the “not in public” whisper that I’ve been saying ever since I pointed out a pregnant woman at a store, and he felt a duty to inform her in his overly loud, high-pitched 3-year-old voice that “the baby is going to come out your vagina!” (Clearly, I should have saved some of the specifics for when he was a little bit older, but he’s my first kid, so what the hell do I know?)
So when we are at home, the barrage of potty words that he had been bottling up explode into a nonstop string of “fart,” “toot,” or “poop.”
“No toot’s too big, no fart’s too small!” he’ll quip during the theme song of Paw Patrol.
“Colin!” I’ll bark, coupled with raised eyebrows.
“What?” he asks, like he’s actually wondering why I’m interrupting his bastardizing the words of an otherwise adorable intro to a children’s show.
Later, I’ll ask him what he wants for dinner.
“Tooty poop with farts on the side,” he’ll respond, followed by fits of laughter. He’s said slightly varied versions of this gag so many times — especially while squirting way too much ketchup on his plate just to keep hearing the fart-like squirt sounds — that I’ve actually entertained the idea of putting a piece of dog poop on a plate and telling him that it’s his dinner. That would have to get him to stop with the potty words already, right? Because I’m certainly not succeeding with what I’ve tried so far, which recently included asking him about it.
“Colin, why do you feel the need to tell me every time that I fart?”
“Because! You might not know that you farted,” he replied.
“So? I really don’t need to know,” I said.
“Yes, you do! Because…you farted!” he said.
I don’t know what else to expect, really, given that this is coming from the same kid who demands to sit on a stool and play next to the toilet when I’m going to the bathroom.
Admonishing him clearly doesn’t work, nor does asking him to explain or reasoning with him (which, given that he’s a preschooler, seems like a personified oxymoron), so tonight I decided to choose my battles and lean in to my little stinker while — bonus! — also potentially convincing him to eat more vegetables.
“Hey Colin, want to hear a super silly song?” I asked him during dinner. “It starts like this: ‘Beans, beans, the magical fruit…'”