People go on a lot about the smell of babies.
I used to wonder what the fuss was about. So far as I could tell they smelt pretty average.
Their lives, as observed by me from a safe distance, also seemed to emit some real stinkers – obviously, the dirty nappies, but also the foul smelling stuff in jars that they live on, or so I thought.
(Snooks steadfastly refuses to eat anything from a jar unless its name contains the word ‘pudding’ or ‘dessert’. He makes an exception for William Christ Pears, which of course have become known as ‘Jesus Pears’. But there is more chance of getting him to eat his own slippers than consume any unappetising gunk dubiously dubbed “broccoli bake”).
There was also that milky smell you notice when you walk into the house of a newborn baby, where an exhausted mother has usually resigned herself to wearing milk-encrusted clothing (I once heard of a new mum going on her first big night out, without realising that she had baby puke all down the back of her black Prada coat) and dabs half-heartedly at the sofa when bubs delivers curdled lunch back up onto it. I remember, in the early days, holding Snooks at arms length as hot milk jetted like a geyzer from his little screaming mouth right into my face.
And then there is that lovely, recently-bathed-and-regularly-laundered smell which only small children seem to be able to carry off; in adults it just smacks of weird Howard Hughesy type germ obsession.
Since having Snooks I have found that a whole range of olfactory experiences come as part of the very primal role of motherhood.
On more than one occasion, for instance, a doctor has been consulted on the subject our Snooks’ fishy smelling breath after a waiter told the Engineer that it was a sure sign of infection. That time it did turn out that poor little Snooks had tonsillitis but subsequent similar investigations have only thrown up the probable explanation that he had fish for tea and has indigestion.
I also notice that while I have little trouble tolerating the smell of my own offspring’s nappies, I still cannot stand the smell of other babies’ offerings and have to resist the urge to gag when they come a bit too close.
While once the universal use of Johnson’s Baby Powder might have explained that special baby smell everyone is after, its banishment as a suspected cause of some ailment (which escapes me now, and anyway I don’t want to get sued so should not be too specific) means it cannot be the source.
And anyway, in an effort to retain Snooks’ inherent sweet scent, not to mention his remarkably good skin, I have avoided using any fragranced products on him and until recently resisted the common practice of a daily bath. Until he was running around outside every day, it really seemed unnecessary to me, though this omission did raise a few eyebrows.
So just the other day, when, as I was nuzzling into the back of his head while we watched telly (this is the only time he allows me to do this) and I suddenly noticed this magic smell, this potent potion, I knew for certain it was not the result of any manufactured product but must have been that elusive baby essence.
“That’s it!” I shouted to no one in particular. “He smells like Golden Syrup.”
If it is the case that I have identified That Baby Smell that sends broody women into orbit and reduces grown men to tears, then Tate and Lyle should start cashing in.
However I like to think that maybe this is just Snooks’ very own delicious aroma.
If only old Kurt were here to sing about it.