Underneath my laptop I have a magazine insert that advertises perfume. I usually yank them out and give them to Jenny. I kept this one because it reminds me of my long-distance friend. The heat from the laptop warms it a bit. Once in awhile I hit a keystroke and a little whiff of the scent comes at me. It’s almost like he’s standing right behind me. I wish I knew which keystroke was the magic one to warm up the scent.
The randomness is what makes it sweet.
The kids and I are always talking about how something smells. I can remember Will at his third birthday. He was seriously into his sniffing phase. Each present he opened couldn’t be enjoyed until he’d thoroughly smelled it. He’s gotten a little more discreet about how he smells things.
Jenny often decides whether or not she likes someone based on their scent.
I’m fascinated by the memories that are conjured up by a particular scent. The combination of lime and cilantro always transports me to Isla Mujeres. A freshly sharpened pencil makes me think of Fall and the first day of school.
It’s not that the kids and I are part canine, it’s more that we are keenly aware of scents, and we make connections that anchor those scents to a time or place.
The other morning, the wood stove was hot, and Will had just made a killer batch of pancakes. I was walking down the hallway just as the water heater fired up, leaving a faint smell of gas in the air. The scents of warm pancakes, coffee, smoke from the wood stove, a little gas fume and laundry detergent all converged in the same spot in the hallway, stopping me in my tracks.
Those smells brought me back to 1966, when I was four years old. I was standing in the middle of my grandma’s living room, wearing pigtails. I was safe, warm and cozy, and I had a full belly.
The current me wanted to get down on the floor with the four-year-old me and play dolls.
I would have whispered in her ear, “Don’t be so nice all the time. You can be a good girl, but don’t jump so high and run so fast to please. Don’t forget to make sure that you are happy, too. Being a pleaser makes you a target for a Narcissist.”
I wasn’t going to tell her to walk around with hands on hips, sticking her tongue out at everybody in her path. I wasn’t going to tell her to kick them in the shins. I wanted to tell her that they would all still like her even if she wasn’t so perfect all the time.
I wanted to tell her that she’d be just fine.
In my efforts to help Will and Jenny navigate their relationship with their dad, I remind them to acknowledge their own feelings. One of them will say, “Mom, I didn’t really want to say that, but if I had been honest, I would have hurt dad’s feelings.” The other will say, “How come dad never worries about our feelings?”
It’s a delicate balance teaching them to be kind, but also protective of their own feelings. I’m proud of them when they get up the courage to politely tell someone that they feel slighted. I encourage them to be honest, but they are too schooled in the costs of being honest with their dad.
It’s easier to be nice. The default position of nice creates doormats. I might as well paint little targets on their beautiful foreheads. The targets would say, “Pick me! I’m an excellent source!”
The best I can do is teach them how to sniff out the narcissists, and stay clear.