Parenting, One Deep Breath

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My seven year-old has a new hobby, collecting Smencils. If you are unfamiliar with Smencils, they are exactly what they sound like, pencils that smell, hence the Smencil. I guess this is a school fund-raiser and they sell for a dollar once a week in the school office during the morning recess. The kids are crazy about them, Azul included. They all buy them when they get a chance and compare the different designs and smells each one has. It seems to be building a community of presenting and sharing with each other.

This appears to be a fairly innocent hobby, it helps them explore their sense of smell and gives them a writing utensil as well. I have had the pleasure of participating in the act of breathing in these artificially enhanced pencils, and I think my favorite is Strawberry Cupcake. Azul’s favorite is Easter Bubble Gum (oh, yes, there are special holiday versions as well). He now has sixteen of these in his collection. He loves his Smencils!

Recently, we attended a workshop together and one of the tasks given to the kids was to create a nameplate out of firm paper and markers while the instructor went over handouts with the adults. The kids all got to work immediately, folding paper and choosing markers to create their one of a kind pieces of artwork. While my curious son was working on his, he immediately began to bring each open marker to his nose, take a deep breath and after finding some satisfaction with the smell he would continue with his project. I watched in a state of confusion. Why was he smelling the markers? And then holding his freshly colored nameplate up to his face and smelling that as well?

Eventually he turned to me with a blue uncapped marker in his hand, pointed to it and said, “Mmmmmm, blueberry.” I graciously accepted his offer and moved to smell the marker, trying not to let it touch my skin, I didn’t want to get marker on my nose and look like a paint huffer …

That’s when it dawned on me, these innocent Smencils, his new-found hobby and love of collecting something to call his own, is training my seven year-old to huff paint! 

I could never take his beloved Smencils away, I remember him even saying it helped calm him down when he was angry, but what if he graduates from Easter Bubble Gum to Sharpies, and then to Elmer’s Glue, and then one day to Krylov Multipurpose spray paint! Oh, my baby’s face covered in paint with a dripping cloth in his hand …

“Smell it,” he continued, and he was right — it smelled like blueberry. As he returned to his work, I returned to the present and took a deep breath. Sometimes with parenting you just have to sit back and smell the Smencils.

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