“Momma, momma, I think something bit me,” my daughter yelled.
My inquiry was shushed as she pulled the sleeve of her sweatshirt back from her wrist, and exposed a large pink blemish on her wrist. She shoved her wrist in my face.
“Smell it,” she said, then explained that a few moments earlier, as she put on a different sweatshirt she felt something inside of it. “I think a bug was inside the sleeve and it bit me.”
I couldn’t diagnose, problem-solve or console her before she said, “Smell these.” Then she shoved three three hair bands that were on her wrist and stuck them in my face.
“I’m sorry, Bridge. Yes, that’s the stink of a stink bug,” I said.
“Do I have to take another shower?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Will the stink stay around,” she asked.
“Well, I can smell it all around you,” I said. “Do you want me to get you something for your wrist.”
“No,” she said. “Do you think it bit me?”
“I never heard of a stink bug biting people. Maybe your skin is irritated where it sprayed its stink?” I responded.
Moments later, she announced she was going to take her second shower in a half hour.
When she returned to work on her homework, she announced the smell was still hanging around her wrist. I asked her to come into the kitchen. I didn’t know if my ad hoc culinary stink relief and parenting for dogs skills were applicable, but I poured some hydrogen peroxide on the blemish followed my lemon juice.
She asked me why?
I told her that the hydrogen peroxide was a part of the de-skunking formula for Chloe, and the lemon is the answer when my hands smell like onions or garlic.
She was satisfied with the answer, thanked me and returned to her homework.
Fifteen minutes later she asked if there were any brownies left, or if I left them at Nana’s. I told her I brought them home and I cut them up. And that yes, she could have one, but no I would not get it for her.
She said, “thank you” and I heard footsteps, upon which I knew the stink had passed.
This exchange happened over the last hour. Just after I was thinking of writing about people who irritate us and how for myriad reasons we have to tolerate them. These stinkers sometimes surprise us. They are our family members, friends, and co-workers. Sometimes we are fortunate to find an anti-inflammatory to decrease their irritation. Other times we have to tolerate their stink.
Most stinkers don’t mean any harm. How do I know that? I’ve smelled a few. In other words, it’s wisdom that comes with age. Stinkers aren’t intentionally malicious; their meanness is a defense mechanism. They were hurt once, they never healed, and now the rest of the world has to suffer through their stink. Like the stink bug, they are are just looking for a nice warm place to be loved, and that’s why sometimes we just suck it up, knowing that as sure as the sun will rise and set, their stink will pass.