Two & A Half Men: Lessons On Smelly

Girls are sugar and spice and everything nice. Which, I used to think,  would make boys bitter and dull and everything vicious. So when I When I found out I was expecting a mini-person in 2009, I could not help but picture a girl. When I closed my eyes, rubbed the hand that rolled waves from inside my middle, I could only see ribbons and curls, skipping and tea parties, flowers and ladybugs. I was ready to usher Little Miss Fancy into the world and make every day of her existence a testament to the power of gingham sundresses and whimsical hair bows.

We shall call you Sweetness Sugar Plum.

The root of my childhood centers around the feminine factor. As one of four girls, our days (after the tree-climbing and dirt-digging) came back to dolls and nail polish, tutus and Disney princesses. We spent Friday evenings huddled on the floor of my grandmother’s living room, surrounded by our elder female blood with their fancy nails and shimmering jewelry. I cannot remember a man there, perhaps because the few  husbands and uncles knew well enough to keep their Man Talk in the kitchen. Years of dressing dolls, rose-printed bedding, and ballet recitals instilled in me a loyal female heart.It’s hardly surprising that my entire youth can be chronologically recalled in terms of french braids and frilly outfits.

I can only imagine my own lace-lined upbringing is where the assumption came from that I would have a little lady. By the time we went for that oh-so-telling ultrasound, I had diminished the possibility of having a boy to somewhere around a %1 likelihood.

And in a second the nurse points out a wiener.

And in a few months the doctor flops a slippery, ten-pound HOSS on your chest.

 And in a year this mother stares in awe of her grizzly boy and his uncanny talent for wrestling and annihilating things.

    It has been a year-and-a-half of learning and transforming, his food-stained fingers peeling my fingers death-gripping etiquette and the color pink. Shortly after our move to a new city, my dad joined us in our tiny guest room we now refer to as The Man Cave or The Dungeon. My powder-ed and hair-sprayed existence has given way to a frat house, and in managing the home of these testosterone-fueled beings I’ve pocketed some serious life lessons.

-There is no exotic scent of Febreze that can overcome the pungent aroma of fresh farts. It lingers and seeps, and if you leave the house for more than an hour you will return with a fresh nose and a certainty that there must be a few dead bodies somewhere in here.

Smells like fresh cotton… and poop.

The upside to the manly fragrance is that I am no longer self-conscious about my own bodily odors. I have gone months without wearing perfume, and actually sprayed my spit-up-stained pants with Windex to “freshen up”. IT ALL COMES OUT IN THE WASH, err something!

– There is something to be said for having an unlimited supply of batteries, power tools,shaving cream, recorded news shows as well as a stocked liquor cabinet right under your thumb.

-Insist on watching So You Think You Can Dance enough (particularly when it coincides with major sporting events) and you WILL get your own mini TV for the bedroom.

-You take a compliment where you can get it. Growing up in a Land of Ladies, I was  always told I looked pretty,  danced gracefully, and had the singing voice of a gold-winged angel. As I got older, I realized these gestures were kind but unfounded. I could run into a 30 foot wall in broad daylight, and my singing voice makes an eardrum bleed. Now that I am fully immersed in a boy-run household, I see the value in a sincere accolade. “This chicken is moist”  or “Thanks for washing dishes” translates to “You kind of suck at cooking, but you sure did try real hard!”. “Did you put on makeup today or did the baby smack your face?” translates to “Your cheeks look nice and rosy. I am noticing your physical appearance!”.  No needn’t  call me darling and flex your brain to woo me. A moist chicken breast is enough of an accomplishment for this old girl.

-Love comes in various gestures which never resemble hugs. My friend was altogether horrified when Baby reached up for me, and rather than hug and cuddle, used one hand to yank my hair and the other to punch me in the nose. Other days he insists on pinching the dog’s eyeballs. I would be worried, but he makes a sweet smile and coos in a high-pitched girly tone to show his affectionate intentions. When Dad and Poppy return home from work, the couch tackling, belly busting sport commences. It could be a sweaty locker room or a gaggle of girls giggling over mani/pedi’s. You see, what looks like physical assault is tender loving in this house.

– Clothing is required, but nobody said it has to be clean! Whereas I used to be a neat freak, I now find myself wiping a snotty nose and spilt coffee with the very same shirt. Again, IT ALL COMES OUT IN THE WASH (note: blood and poop are exceptions….also Mustard, barf, mysterious sewage puddle water, and all things).

Dainty is what’s wrong with the world. Although my girlish upbringing lent itself to tea parties and ribbon twirling, I’m finding the value in the rough and tumble style that my two and a half men possess. Something about wrestling, burping, and causing a general ruckus is substantially more liberating than dressing a Barbie.

From Heather Armstrong’s book, Things I Learned About My Dad (In Therapy), I found a passage from blogger and dad of three boys, Greg Knauss that pretty much drives this idea home:

” Boys will be boys isn’t so much an excuse for their behavior as a prediction of it. We spent an afternoon at the park with some friends and their three girls. While the girls sat in the sand and shared toys and bonded in a way that was only missing a few glasses of wine or some chocolate icecream, my sons ran in noisy circles around them, trying to punch each other in the face.

“Wow,” my friend said. “Is that what boys are like?”


“Man. They just…Wow.”

“If it makes you feel any better for me, your kids are going to mutate into teenage girls at some point, and that will make this little melee look like tea with the Queen. The boys are just going to keep hitting eachother. The only thing I have to worry about is fratricide. Your girls are going to run psy-ops campaigns that would make the CIA curl into a fetal ball and cry itself to sleep.”


“Ha, ha-ha, ha.”

You take your victories where you can find them.”

Let’s spit and maybe kick eachother!

And I’ll take it! The pleasant pace of eat-sleep-rough house-repeat that comes with an all-male territory might lack the frill and pearl I was accustomed to, but  it comes with a low-maintenance, easy-going, vivacious spirit that can’t be beat. For all the sugar and spice and everything nice I used to want, I wouldn’t trade this Frat House for anything…except maybe a family pack of Febreze.

35 thoughts on “Two & A Half Men: Lessons On Smelly

  1. I loved this! We need to stock up on Febreze all the time. If my son (or husband) is in a room for any length of time and I enter, I always say, “why does it smell like poop in here?”

    I was a bit shocked too with my first u/s to find I was having a boy. I grew up with all brothers, so I was hoping to have a girl to make up for the countless years full of farting/burping/hitting/wrestling. But my son is Mama’s boy and he is an absolute sweetheart. Aside from the smelly parts, I find boys to be so much easier than girls. Girls whine endlessly, throw diva-sized fits over nothing and they hold grudges forever.

    1. Right before I had my son, we went shopping at an outdoor mall. I saw a mom with her three girls, all small. They were entering some store called Justice! with hot pink, glitter and feathery window displays and the smallest girl says “You’re getting me at least 4 tops. I want the cheetah leggings.” I knew then that being the mom of a dude was a serious blessing :)

      1. Ha! Yes, exactly. My son tends to wear the same Mario shirt every single day and will let me wash it once it starts walking off by itself. I forgot to add another difference between boys and girls. My son has never said the words, “I hate you!” but my daughter pretty much came out of the womb saying that. ;)

  2. oh my gosh, I was laughing from start to finish. This is great! I don’t have any children, but you summed up my thoughts on boys and girls and raising them. I get enough farting and belching with the hubs (and the dog).. Lol.

  3. I’ve had both a boy and a girl, Tori. Boys always love thier Mums no matter what. Rarely does he roll his eyes at me. My daughter, on the other hand, eye rolls so much its a wonder she can still see. I know eventually she will be able to admit she loves me. My boy, however, always has and he’s 26 now.

    Great post today! You rock too!

  4. This was great, Tori! Good for you for giving up your pink, ruffled dreams so gracefully, and embracing the Dank Side. Sounds like you’re just the kind of mom a little boy needs.

  5. I have three children, all boys. My oldest friend has three children, all girls. His house? Constant drama. Mine? A little wrestling from time to time but otherwise peace and quiet. I wouldn’t trade my old friend.

  6. Brilliant, my friend! I love the notion of your childhood being chronicled in terms of “french braids and frilly outfilts.”
    And your title totally rocks. I will be curious to know if including the word “smelly” in your title will increase traffic.
    This post is both completely hysterical and brilliantly written. You rock, Miss Tori!

  7. hahaha I grew up with three brothers and no sisters… and out of 15 grandchildren there are only 4 girls… I know exactly what you are talking about with the whole smelly being surrounded by boys thing. And that’s sad your Mister shot the whole running around the neighborhood half naked thing… probably should stay inside and forget about the whole running thing.

  8. I am the oldest of four girls. My oldest child is a daughter. When the next two came (within 10 months of each other) I KNEW God was sending me girls because I knew nothing of raising boys. Ha! God has a sense of humor because of my two boys. And I am having a blast. Such an adventure.

  9. And the most important thing to remember is, you can ALWAYS amuse the boys with shiny, noisy objects. After all, what is a ’63 Corvette StingRay or an F-15 jet other than a shiny, noisy object for BIG boys? ;)

  10. I think they need to come up with his and hers home economics courses. The guys course will include the 600 hundred uses of Fabreze and why it is so much easier to use as than a washing machine. It ranks up there with duct tape for usefulness. Thanks for the laugh. Being the only guy in a girl clad world when I grew up, I seem to not have mastered some of the skills of proper manliness. I consider this a lesson. Can’t wait to start practicing!!

  11. While I haven’t watched it in a couple of seasons, I’ll never understand why most men won’t give So You Think You Can Dance a try. I mean, it’s basically an hour’s worth of scantily-clad, sexy women dancing and gyrating. Sure, there are men, too – but you (meaning me) hardly notice ’em! I would go so far as to say SYTYCD is one of the most manly shows a guy could possibly watch!

    1. Mark, you are smarter than most. My dad used to complain about the “chick” show. Now I catch him yelling things like “Turn out your plie, dumbass!” at the TV screen :)

  12. Great post, Tori! So funny, and so sad (only because the truth hurts sometimes). My two boys and my husband are slobs, but the trade off is that they let things roll off them and spare be drama. I thought I’d have girls, too, and still find it crazy that I have two sons. Yay for the 10-pounder, btw. My first was 9 lbs 12 oz, the second 10 lbs 2 oz.

    1. Seriously, people still make a frowny face at my crotch when I tell them how much he weighed. I think just HAVING A BABY period is the ouch part. I really wanted girls I think because it was my comfort zone growing up with 3 sisters. I’m not going to lie, though, raising a boy has been SO simple and wonderful. No drama, no worries if mom looks like a bed-headed monster. It’s all good :)

      1. You’re hilarious, Tori! “People still make a frowny face at my crotch” – yup, I get that, too. It makes me feel like Mutant Mom. We need a bumper sticker: “My 10-pounder baby kicks your little baby’s butt.”

      2. Haha! I like to think of my vagina as a Grade A Warrior, ya know? I’m almost scared to have another kid who’s normal weight. I saw a two-month old baby in the store the other day and I couldn’t help but make a face like “oh. what’s wrong with your sick little baby?”. Normal kids just look like runts to me now!

  13. I grew up in a family with four sisters and four brothers, so, five males and five females. I was like both sides. I can’t say one is better. It just made sense to have us all. But as the testosterone kicked in for the males, aged 11 or so, they became violent, controlling, and wouldn’t let us girls have the remote controll to the TV. It was awful. I never married. Never wanted to. And Febreeze is still a trusted friend in my household.

    Dogs and cats rule. That’s how the chips all floated down and sorted out for me.

    Great post, beautifully descriptive and creative.

  14. I suggest you begin training your son in hand-under-the-armpit fart-sound-making as soon as possible. It’s a competitive world out there, and you don’t want him to be left behind.

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