Remember in the movie "Big Daddy" where Adam Sandler's character is told, not so delicately, by the crotchety old teacher that his kid is the smelly kid? I'm here today, as a public service, to inform you how to NOT have the smelly kid (or BE the smelly kid, let's face it, children will read this).
First of all, I'm a firm believer in daily baths/showers for all people, even the smallest of people (exceptions being those who suffer terribly from eczema and cannot possibly be subjected to hot water on a daily basis. You get a free pass. But no one else!). I simply have never understood the logic behind having "bath night" since the invention of convenient running water in our households. Kids, of all people, get dirty and sweaty and crawl around on the floor and pick up bugs and are exposed to zillions of germs every nanosecond of the day, and certainly could benefit from at least a quick "baby wipe" bath before being put to bed.
I understand that some children reach an age where showering and bathing become unpleasant chores that they wish to avoid. I do not understand this foreign concept, as my own children were always bathed daily and incorporated that as part of their nighttime routines as soon as they were old enough to be in charge of themselves. Taking a bath was never an option, but, rather, an expected part of the grooming process that one performs daily, much like brushing teeth or combing hair.
However. I work in public schools and I am APPALLED at the state in which children arrive to school. Now, I am not saying every child has an attentive parent who grooms them or teaches them proper grooming techniques, and therefore some children must be given a pass for being "the smelly kid" due to lack of parental guidance or neglect. That is, perhaps, the worst of all, because it's heartbreaking to see a disheveled child who KNOWS they are disheveled and therefore, uncomfortable.
But it's the children from affluent homes, children of means, who arrive to school in clothing that smells soured (yes, you do actually have to remove the load from the washer before it sits in 80 degree heat in a moist environment all day), or with matted hair that smells of maple syrup (did you know that's what dirty hair smells like? Maple syrup. It's true). And, really, once your child reaches fourth or fifth grade, you really do have to purchase them deodorant. Running around and getting sweaty on the playground really works up a stink and better to have your child protected with a sweet-smelling deodorant rather than have them go around smelling of onions the rest of the day. Don't think your child is old enough to wear deodorant? Think again. Just take a sniff next time they run around and get all sweaty. You'd be surprised how early kids need deodorant!
Worst of all, perhaps, is coats, backpacks and lunch boxes that are NEVER cleaned! Yes, even these items should be run through the washer/dryer or dishwasher (in the case of the lunch box) from time to time. Water bottles? Those are just little petri dishes unless you have your child bring them home frequently for a good washing. And in our school district, many children eat their lunches at their desks. If you could see their desks.....well, let's just say if your table at a restaurant was a child's classroom desk, you'd ask to be moved to another table. Why not send along an anti-bacterial wipe to clean off their space before putting their sandwich on it?
And before you think I'm a germaphobe, think again! I've followed the "five-second" rule for dropped food, wiped the baby's pacifier on my shirt and let my toddler eat Cheerios off a public meeting room floor and didn't really think twice. But my kids were bathed daily, their hair was washed and their clothing, backpacks, lunchboxes and coats cleaned on a regular basis. I once had a teacher tell me "I like your kids because they're so clean" and countless people ask what laundry detergent I use because my kids' clothes always smell so good (Tide and Clorox bleach, nothing else compares!). Disclaimer - my kids now do their own laundry so if they are smelly it's their own fault!
But, please, send your child to school clean. Wash their coats. Teach them to wear deodorant. For the sake of teachers everywhere, teach good hygiene. Because a classroom of 28 preteens can get pretty ripe. And you don't even want to smell high school. Smells like teen spirit? Not so much.