Monday, November 16, 2009

This too shall pass (by Billy Coffey)

A few minutes ago a bit of the last forkful of my son’s green beans failed to be broken down into acids and molecules and slipped undigested into his large intestine. There the billions of hungry bacteria sat down to a dinner of their own, finishing the job and sending them off into his bloodstream.

The process resulted in a mixture of methane, hydrogen, and sulfide that was forced downward as pressure and expelled. Right onto the couch cushion beside me. With a rapid and not-so-elegant


I didn’t move my eyes from the book I was reading, didn’t even acknowledge it had happened. And to my son’s credit, he didn’t either. Not at first. He kept right on attacking the buttons on his Nintendo DS, and I let him.


I turned the page and without looking said, “Whatcha say, Bud?”

“Scuse me,” he answered.

I nodded and kept reading, thinking the moment had passed. Which it had, technically speaking. But the aftereffects had not, because then another sound escaped from his other end in the form of a muffled snort.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.




I waited an appropriate amount of time—about three paragraphs of my novel—for the required Scuse me, but none came. There was, however, another snort.

And then, Squeak/Snort!


“Scuse me (snort!).”

I sighed and resumed reading. In a span of a few short minutes both noises from both places quieted. I offered myself a satisfied nod. It was a victory. Not a decisive one maybe, but complete enough.

I’m unsure at what point this certain bodily function became the holy grail of hilarity to him, but it did. Nothing in the world makes my son laugh as hard as either hearing it, smelling it, or—most of all—doing it.

He knows all the synonyms—gas, vapors, stinker, breaking wind, cutting the cheese, and the ever popular toot. He peppers them into his speech and has entire conversations about them with his friends. I suspect he even eats certain amounts of certain foods just to perform his own unique standup routine later on. Smellivision, I call it. The finale always seems reserved for the bathtub.

Raising a son is hard. Trying to explain why these antics aren’t what a young man should aspire to is harder.

So I sat him down. Said it’s a normal thing that everyone does, but not the sort of thing people should really be talking about a lot. And really not the sort of thing people should devote elaborate performances to. He nodded and yessir’d me and promised to be better.

And he was. Until bath time. His performance that night was somehow even more spectacular than usual.

Another talk. More parental wisdom. He said at the end, “But everybody does it.”

“But everybody should try not to make a big deal out of it,” I answered.

“I bet Jesus tooted.”

“I bet He did, too. I also bet he said ‘Excuse me’ after and then kept right on healing people and stuff instead of laughing and telling everyone how bad it smelled.”

“Yeah,” he said. “He was really good at that.”

Training a child is not unlike training a dog. It’s a long process that requires a lot of patience and a lot of effort. It’s reward and punishment, a firm hand and a loving one. And it’s also a practice best done knowing that while our children will slip from time to time, we do the very same thing.

Thankfully, he’s gotten better with this. Much better. The normal bodily functions are still functioning, but they’re being done so under the polite cover of modesty and discretion. Even in those times when nature plays its cruel hand and delivers multiple ones right after another—as just happened—he’s bent but not buckled. I’m proud of him. I really am.

Just now he handed me a sheet of paper between games on his DS, courtesy of his teacher. The class would be going on their first ever excursion in a week. To the fire department, no less. I scribbled my name at the bottom, giving my permission for him to attend.

“You’ll have fun,” I told him. “Did your teacher tell you what it’s called when you leave school and go somewhere?”

“Yep,” he said. “It’s a fart trip.”

Pray for me.


To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.


Janet Oberholtzer said...

omg ... I took a sip of coffee right before I read the last line and almost died for the choking that followed - 'thanks'

I'm raising 3 boys and trust me your son's behavior is so typical. My boys are now young adults (16,19,21) and when the 21-yr old comes home from college - at times, I wonder if they've grown up at all! As I leave the room due to smells, I optimistically think of it as a rebonding time between brothers.

~*Michelle*~ said...

Like Janet.....I live in a house filled with testosterone and every other smell imaginable. Throw in a nasty 120 lb male Rottie and they all can clear a room in a NY second.

My senses are dulled thankfully...and now my quest is to convince my daughter that there always are some exceptions to the rules in life. One rule being that girls can (or should) do anything that boys can. So far, not so good. Not only does she take part in her older brothers' antics, she gets encouragement from them.


Robin Arnold said...

Our family word for said function/sound was "hooperdoo." My father invented it and is still amused and more than able. I couldn't wait to marry into a family where a fart was a fart.

Tana said...

I've got three boys. It can get a little noisy. There better now though ;)

Loren said...

Oh my goodness ~ This is soo funny! and yes as all have said above "very typical" I'll just bet that you were the exact same is a youngun as well Billy :)

Maybe you should be a chaperone is this "fart trip" ya know make sure there is no funny stuff going on ~ or OUT ;) LOL

Andrea said...

Absolutely adorable! I can say this. I have successfully raised 3 sons. You will one day look back with fond memories of this time. It will simpler and less complicated of days after your son has successfully lived through his teenage years. Actually during his teenage years you will yearn for these moments.
Blessings on your journey,

Jeanne Damoff said...

My favorite part is the explanation of how Jesus handled his toots. 50 points.

I'm afraid my family (yes, we're all adults) would not be a good influence on your son in this matter. And that's all I will say about that.

Heather Sunseri said...

Oh, my. I'm a Southern Belle about some things, and I'll just say I don't say some of those words, which means my family (especially the grown-ups) say them any chance they get around me. I get the "Oh, Heather, loosen up" and "everybody does it" all the time. I'm scarred by this post.

Nick the Geek said...


My son is 5 and only finds this mildly funny. For his sake and his mother's I'm pretty happy about that.

Speaking of other names for the passing of gasses, my kids are pretty inventive and tend to merge words and ideas to explain what is going on. They are familiar with burping and know the name of the body part that makes the sound, so when asked they all seem to have come to the conclusion that the proper description of the event is "my butt burped."

Anonymous said...

Such a funny story! I wouldn't let me kids use any word, besides 'toot', for many years. Then they got older and told me they could not continue to use this word any longer... I guess the time had come (they are in middle school).

I think my 'butt burped' might be just what we need around here... ha!

Jo said...

Leave it to you, Billy, to weave philosophy and wisdom into a fart story. Love it!

Maureen said...

I'm enjoying the comments as much as the post.

Are you aware there is a children's book about this very subject? I need to get the title right, so I'll check Amazon and come back.


Maureen said...

It turns out there are quite a few children's books on the subject (geez, I had no idea; my son's 21 now).

Here's the one I remember:

katdish said...

Thank you, Maureen for your in-depth research.

I've actually read that book. (Shocking...I know.)

Stephanie Wetzel said...

I'm so glad to see other parents of boys whose kids are a little less ... polite ... than Billy is raising his son to be.

With 1 boy followed by 2 girls, even my girls are "free" in this manner. Noisy, fragrant, and giggly here most of the time.

But I guess the good news is that as long as they say "excuse me" - even if it's between giggles - it's okay, right?

Cheptoek said...

I am like Heather and saying some of those words or hearing them comes hard for me. This was an interesting read though and made me laugh!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Funny stuff!

jasonS said...

Is it bad that I still find this funny on occasion? Maybe not to the same degree as a little boy, but...

"Fart trip" -classic :)

Fatha Frank said...

I have a son about the same age and his favorite word is 'poopy'. He's good about saying 'excuse me' at the appropriate time, but hasn't learned that saying poopy whenever he feels like is never appropriate (unless describing the present state of his sister's diaper).

Looking forward to him being older and the musty room/smelly clothes stage.

Roxane B. Salonen said...

My 6-year-old recently learned to do the tooting sound with his hand under his opposite armpit. I have to tell you, it's every bit as noisy but not nearly as smelly. But he's done it in the most inappropriate places. My 4-year-old loves burping, any chance he can get. But like Michelle, I have a daughter who also enjoys joining the fun. I came from a family of sisters only. We were not fascinated by such things. Lord, help me! :)

katdish said...

I feel the need to point out that no one has mentioned blaming it on the dog...

Carry on...

Wendy said...

Does it surprise anyone that my daughter thinks that farts (when she's ripping 'em anyway) are the funniest thing ever? Yeah, didn't think so. I tell her she's got a tooty-fruity butt.

Corinne Cunningham said...

I'll pray for you as long as you pray for me! My son is just starting to think the whole bodily function stuff is funny...

Sounds like you're handling it very well :)

Laura said...

I have two brothers, and when they were younger they invented in entire language around this particular bodily function. I won't bore you with the vocabulary. Suffice it to say, it did not amuse my mother. Now I have two sons and hold my breath...waiting for the second generation of cut the cheese talk.

It won't hurt my feelings if they skip this particular developmental stage!

Candy said...

Once I got over the shock of our sweet Billy doing a flatulence post, I laughed hysterically. I raised two boys who were very competitive in the gas department, and still are at 29 and 32. They actually perform duets.

I was not a very good disciplinarian. I blame it on the combination of high fiber suppers and their dad working second shift. I was always under the covers during those performances.

But this sweetly reminded me of my dad saying "Who faaahhrrred that shot?"

Helen said...

I personally find belching much funnier than tooting...but then, I am a lady, after all...


Anonymous said...

somehow I think even Jesus cracked a smirk. ;)
he was fully human, right?

Elaina M. Avalos said...

I love it. And I have to agree with the last commenter, I'm thinking Jesus would have had a good laugh too. I totally dig God's sense of humor. So I'm thinkin' He'd be okay with that. In fact, I'd venture to guess that He gets a kick out of your son being a boy. :)