We Are A Family That Embraces — And Even Delights In — Noisy Bodily Functions

by Annie Reneau
Shutterstock / Kim Britten

My husband didn’t full-on fart in front of me until our honeymoon. It was 18 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. We were sitting in twin rocking chairs on the porch of a quaint, private cabin overlooking the Pacific. As we chatted and gazed out over the water, my handsome new spouse leaned over, lifted one butt cheek completely off the chair, and let rip the loudest fart I’d ever heard — without even pausing his speech.

I was blown away (badum-pum), and honestly, kind of impressed.

My husband’s skill at flatulating with gusto is only matched by my ability to belch like a champion. I don’t actually toot much, but ooh, can I burp with the best of them. Though we are dignified and courteous out in public, within the confines of our home we let our bodily functions fly.

An acquaintance once told me they’d be mortified if their husband ever heard them pass gas. Really?! I sometimes wish I could fart on demand, just to get back at my husband for all the times he’s roasted the Dutch oven in our bed. We see these things as normal parts of life, not appropriate for public exposure but totally fine — hilarious, in fact — for family time.

I didn’t grow up with this much looseness. I remember my dad farting a few times and jokingly blaming “barking spiders.” I was taught to always say, “Excuse me,” if I burped (which I still do, even when I’m alone — great training, Ma!). I had an older brother who sometimes had sleepovers, so I was familiar with the whole lighting-farts-on-fire thing. But other than that, my upbringing was much less gassy than my marriage has been.

That happens when you marry into a farty family. I can’t count the number of family jokes that have been created over my in-laws’ flatulence. Each family member has a unique tone/melody/whathaveyou to their toots. Really, I could tell you who farted all the way from the other room. Is that something to be proud of? Probably not. But it’s reality.

And our kids have taken the gassy mantle and run with it. I really can’t blame them. Farts are funny. I remember my babies giggling at their own toots before they could walk. Burps too. Why does gas have to make such fantastic sounds? I can only assume we’re supposed to find it funny if a baby laughs at it.

Indeed, some of society’s discomfort with bodily functions is cultural. In some countries, it’s considered a compliment to the chef to burp or fart after a meal. Of course, anything that smells foul is pretty universally uncouth, so maybe there’s an art to it in those cultures.

Naturally, we’ve taught our kids to be discreet and polite in public. And we’ve tried to teach them to be courteous around our own dinner table, even if it’s just our immediate family, so as to create at least some decent habits. (Try to burp quietly if you have to burp, always say, “Excuse me,” leave the table if you need to fart, etc.) But when we’re just hanging out inside our home? Let’s just say things get musical with our symphony of wind instruments. C’est la vie.

Bodily functions happen, and we’re a family that embraces that fact. It’s much more enjoyable to find the humor in a big juicy belch or a particularly resonant fart than to be horrified by it. As long as we aren’t subjecting the public at large to our uncouth ways, I feel totally okay with joking and laughing over our toots and burps.

To sum up, here’s a poetic version of our family philosophy, which you are totally free to steal:

Be courteous in public.

Say, “Excuse me,” if you slip.

But at home with just our family,

Go ahead and let ‘er rip!