The Body Betrays Us

Deoderant Discussion (1)

It is a great privilege to learn the intimate concerns of children. The last week’s discussion with the Causey kids has centered around the way our body betrays us in the heat of summer in New Orleans. These kids have enough to worry about; being locked out of the house and no one being home when personal issue flare up, like puffy eyes; passing the LEAP on the second go-’round and, lately, the issue is not smellin’ ‘musty’, as they put it.

As adults, we are keen to the battle of combating the summer heat and staying comfortable and presentable in 89 degree heat. However, I have noticed the kids have been having some issues about feeling clean, this, along with their washer being broke at home, the discussion has been pushed my way.

One of the older boys, Mike, came by this week to explain that he was suddenly ‘sponsored’ to go to an amusement park excursion in Dallas, TX with his church. In order to go, he was desperate to have clean clothes for his trip and begged me the let him use the washer and dryer, I graciously obliged. Always cognizant of the dignity issues surrounding such requests, “wash away!”, I said. No pleading necessary. I am more than willing to fold his clothes too, in order that they put on their best face and push their minimum level of presentability to a higher level.

In addition to this incident, I was making my grocery list this week. I put deoderant on the list and Josh piped up to me that he had some deoderant that he didn’t like and apparently someone made a comment that he smelled ‘musty’.

Today, I took him to Rouse’s to show him how to test smell all the deoderants in the aisle so he could get one that suited his personal needs. He got some Axe he liked. On a subtle level, I have noticed in doing their laundry that there exists a shortage of socks, which in summer can lead to naked feet in shoes, leading to more ‘musty’ issues. I brought it up and they said they need more socks really bad. We talked about the comfort of wearing socks in summer and I set them up with some socks I had set aside from my last package of socks. We sort of did a head-to-toe cleanliness inventory of needs too.

Today, this larger discussion coincided with a long bike ride Nick and I took today on the levee. I gave him a choice. Audubon Park . . .or . . . THE LEVEE. He insisted on THE LEVEE. My goal was to show him he was able to make it to the Huey P. Long Bridge which I told him is 14.5 Klicks (kilometers) which is 9 miles. I warned him that it was going to be really, really. Really HOT. He was scared of the dragonflies but got tough with it. When we finally made it to the Huey P. Bridge, we realized he was extra hot because he was wearing TWO T-shirts! So we undid one layer and he was much more confident that we really would be able to make the ride back after that! 

Nick loves to cook, and has a natural talent for it. However, he tends to eat more than he needs to because he’s often cooking/eating to entertain himself. Having been noticeably pudgy myself at 10 yrs-old, I am encouraging him to exercise at this early age. He complained about how hard it was but we made it there and back. We talked about the importance of hard workouts for good health. He got a lot of confidence for completing the circuit . . .at 12:30 in the afternoon in July in New Orleans, I told him this was really tough work and he should be proud of himself.

When we got back, both boys were concerned about how they ‘smelled’ before going to the night church services at Victory for 5:45 pm. Nick didn’t have the key to his house today and no one was home to let him in. He really wanted to bathe and change clothes before church.

So I set them up with some socks and a clean t-shirts of mine. The one Nick settled on had a scooped neck. He just wanted a white t-shirt with a ‘crew neck’ and he said it was “outrageous” that he was wearing a scooped neck. And, it was. I should have some more crew necks around. But we have all decided in our open talks that cleanliness comes before fashion.

So Nick took a shower at my house, likely, his first shower ever, from what I could tell, because apparently, they only have a bathtub and he was fine with the clean shirt in the end. I had to tell him how to set up the water temperature in the shower and he enjoyed it.

After getting both boys dressed with some fresh T-shirts and socks and they both applied extra loads of their new deoderant so they could feel very good about themselves about going to their evening church service. It was a profoundly simple and successful day. It’s so easy to make a couple inner-city kids happy and confident about themselves and it was a very good lesson in being a personally approachable type of person.

I recall the awkward moments growing up at that age and the shyness about talking about such personal issues as wearing a bra in eighth grade. My mom was little scared to discuss this with me, since I was the oldest of five kids, so I totally forgive her. But I know it made it hard for me, so I was happy to take that personal experience and it helped me know just how to make these young boys feel confident about discussing their hygiene needs so they could really put their best foot forward.

Little do these kids realize, this topic is covered at length by adults who talk about endlessly about the battle of the sweat in summer as well! I have found that it’s simply a slightly broader discussion with kids compared to the same one between adults about how we battle of the sweat drips between our respective ta-tas, etc in summer.

6 Comments so far

  1. Laureen Lentz (no_laureen) on July 16th, 2008 @ 1:02 am

    I want to thank Miss Moo, one of our readers, for taking time out of her busy schedule to bring the boys some new socks and t-shirts today to help meet their immediate needs. She could see that we needed some help. Josh put his new socks and a t-shirt on immediately. Nick put on the socks too. The kids won’t have to battle it out for clean socks in their household, thanks to Miss M. She’s an angel. It was like Christmas in July over here today! And thanks for the sugar-free Kool-Aid too, Nick whipped up a couple bottles for himself and Josh even before he put his fluffy new socks on. I think they were in a state of disbelief that someone they didn’t even know did this for them. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You made our day!

  2. kaldi on July 16th, 2008 @ 6:51 am

    Hello, I wanted to tell what a wonderful person you must be, I only added the subjunctive "must be" since I don’t know you personally. I do know that these young men will benefit in many many ways because of the life lessons you provide. Benefits that go well beyond good hygiene, although that is a great thing in its own right. I would like to add my 2 cents for whatever it is worth, and that may be less than 2 cents with inflation, but still…I wasn’t sure if you meant that showering is superior to a bath or not. Just in case though, studies have shown, and yes there have been studies-modern science is truly a wonderful thing-that conclude that a bath actually gets one cleaner that does a shower. I only say this because I have heard so many people perpetuate the mistaken idea that a bath does not properly clean the dead cells away from our bodies. That lingering in our own "filth" does not clean said filth. Not so, a bath more completely washes away the bacteria that gets between the ta tas and other private areas more than standing under running water. Whatever that does manage to cling to our skin is then absorbed by a towel. Still showers are so much more convenient and quick, most everyone prefers a shower. Either one is better than remaining smelly.
    And also I wanted to say something about workouts. Again, our friend science proves that workouts do not have to be hard or even long, just regular. So a mild workout done,let’s say four times a week, is more than twice as beneficial as two overly strenuous ones. The no pain no gain motto sounds good on a t-shirt, it just does not win the battle with the almighty science! However, attempting and completing a difficult and/or intimidating task can have other benefits than exercising the body, so there you go.
    Anyway, although I grew up pampered in the suburbs, I would have loved a mentor such as yourself. Those boys are very lucky!

    God speed to you.

  3. mikesmiley on July 16th, 2008 @ 7:23 am

    I use baby powder to feel fresh during the summer. Especially when biking. It will help prevent a rash too.

  4. Laureen Lentz (no_laureen) on July 16th, 2008 @ 10:19 am

    Thanks for the input kaldi, you’re right, I know about baths which I prefer in winter, nothing like a hot soak. And about workouts. We did a short and relaxing couple of laps in Audubon on Monday. I just don’t like them to ride in the street because they sometimes can’t control their bikes too well. This way they can ride without worry, and me too. Consistency is the key with exercise, I totally agree. I wanted to show Nick he could do something more endurance-like. Josh plays basketball at his church daily but Nick isn’t into that for his sport. He loves biking though. Plus they have these bikes from the Drew Brees give-away and they are worried someone will steal them if they ride them around the hood.

    And Mike, I got Nick turned onto putting baby powder in his shoes. Yesterday I looked at his ears and we learned about Q-tips! Holy Moley, I told him he was so smart that his brains were oozing out. And no wonder he can’t hear me when I say, "Shut the door because the air is on!", five times a day! I am just glad they are feeling all spiffed up!

    I know it’s the best way to really contribute in New Orleans, spending time with the kids who are left to their own devices in the summer. They are wearing me out but I keep telling myself it’s just for the summer, then back to school. We’re still waiting to hear how they did on the LEAP.

    Thanks for the comments !

  5. termite on July 16th, 2008 @ 11:27 pm

    just for the record people:

    in my second life, i get first dibs on being Laureens’ first and only child.

    i’m just sayin’


    Geaux Saints!
    (it’s not too early folks!)

  6. lilsis on July 23rd, 2008 @ 7:23 pm

    Great job Lauri. You are Terrific!

    Here is another suggestion for the boys that i would never have known, if it were not for the combination of a husband who works construction, and my job as a teacher at a daycare center.

    My husband has at times from the heat of summer and his hard work in construction gotten quite the painful heat rash and not in a place that shows. My solution…Diaper cream! he didn’t trust me at first because as he claimed he was neither one of my babies nor did he wear a diaper but it did the trick on the heat rash. I suggest this because i would imagine that boys in the heat of summer riding bikes or playing basketball may also come into the same problem.

    Moral of the story…Diaper cream is not just for babies. :)

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