surviving preschool: cutter No.5

by ck on February 8, 2013

Even to this day, the scent of Chanel No.5 terrifies me.


Not because of its light and relaxing fragrance. Or its iconic black casing. But because growing up Chanel No.5 meant one thing.

Grandma was coming to babysit.

That was not good.

There would be no games, zero stalling, an early bedtime, and no use of the good hand towels. And by “good” I don’t mean fancy, monogrammed ones; we didn’t have that kind. “Good” to Grandma meant the ones that weren’t threadbare. She’d actually put away the soft towels and dig around in the linen closet for the ones my mom used for dusting. Grandma was hard-core depression era.

But back to Chanel. My mom didn’t wear a lot of it. Just a few dabs on her wrist and a touch or two behind her ears. Always a special occasion that required the application of eye shadow and the reemergence of her engagement ring. Things unnecessary for evenings at home. With us. And the scent of the perfume, along with the steam from the bathroom made No.5 seep into the furniture and linger in the air all night long. A reminder that Mom wasn’t home and if she didn’t make it back alive we’d get stuck living with the yellow boat car driving, polyester pant-suit wearing, pregnant looking Grandma who bought the cheap markers that dried up as soon as you opened the package. On those nights I hid at the top of the stairs until I witnessed my parents walk through the door and heard Grandma’s boat chug down the street.

So maybe it’s masochistic, but I’ve always wondered what smell would define me to my kids or make them panic at the thought of my departure. Would it be my everyday light mist of a Bath and Body Works spray? Or would it be my going out Armani? Turns out I needn’t have worried because ONE and TWO love their babysitters so much that ONE often asks if I would just leave so the sitters could come over. And at the word, “babysitter” TWO jumps up and down and yells, “YA! YA! YA!”

I had all but given up hope on leaving a fragrant imprint on my offspring when we entered the park the other day. And as we passed a woman on a bench ONE stopped short and exclaimed,

“MAMA! She smells just like you!”

I died a little inside.

First because of the general mom humiliation that comes when your kid exclaims something you have to physically turn around to understand and second, because the woman was spraying herself with Cutter. The Bug Spray.


THAT is what I smell like to them.

Not Armani. Not Bath and Body Works. Not even Chanel No.5 (which I swore I’d never own, but at this point, I might as well).

This Mom-Thing just gets better and better.





xenophilicx July 7, 2009 at 2:10 am


I mean, as much as that was hilarious, that must have also been prettyyyyy bad.

LJ July 7, 2009 at 2:51 am

too funny! i asked my kids what scent they associate with me — one said that fruity stuff you wore in Grand Cayman. The other — cookies and the youngest – he said as long as you dont smell like Dad!

Thanks for the laugh!

TheKitchenWitch July 7, 2009 at 7:32 am

I love it! Just remember this moment when all the OTHER kids in the hood get West Nile Virus…you’re covered!

parenting BY dummies July 7, 2009 at 7:47 am

Awesome! At least she’s a perceptive girl. Not sure mine would even be able to tell me what I smell like, and I’m about 97% sure that #2 would say I smell like poop. Not because I actually do, just b/c he is obsessed with it and likes to bring it up at every opportunity. He’s nasty like that.

Jessica July 7, 2009 at 8:17 am

At least it’s Skinsations…that’s the PRETTY bug spray ;)

Casey July 7, 2009 at 8:37 am

I suppose it could be worse, you could smell like bottled ass.

Keyona July 7, 2009 at 9:37 am

At least you’ll be bug bite free! :o)

naptimewriting July 7, 2009 at 10:09 am

outstanding writing on grandma. sorry ’bout you reeking of DEET, though. Get some citronella. That’ll be their patchouli.
@Casey, do they make bottled ass? I thought Spouse smelled that way on his own.

D July 7, 2009 at 10:20 am

I love it. It means you’re in the trenches with them.

Jill July 7, 2009 at 10:57 am

At least it wasn’t a homeless person or a garbage man! There are worse things you could smell like!

momto3 July 7, 2009 at 12:28 pm

lol. Even insect repellant is better than C#5 (IMHO). Really it is. Be thankful that you are not associated with that scent. I immediatly thought that One thinks you smell like a mom. The kind that spends time in the outdoors doing fun things with her. That a great thing. Be proud!!!

Country-Fried Mama July 7, 2009 at 5:09 pm

As a daughter, I love that you have this scent-association with your mom and grandma. As a mother, it scares me. I can only imagine the memories I am creating for my girls. “I smell plastic garbage bags. She ‘s coming to throw out old toys! Hide your stuff! Run! Run!”

faemom July 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm

@CFM THAT was hilariious.

Back to the post~ Great writing. LOL Sorry about the smell imprint. I don’t think I want to know what my boys think I smell like.

amandathiessen July 7, 2009 at 5:49 pm


Tiffany July 7, 2009 at 6:55 pm

That is classic. I hate to think what smell my kids would associate with me!!

Gibby July 7, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Of all of your posts, the cute ones, the humorous ones, the bittersweet ones, the tear-jerkers, THIS is one of my all-time favorites. HYSTERICAL! From the grandma part all the way down to the bug spray. LMFAO!!!

Jen July 7, 2009 at 9:52 pm

bug repelent is the scent of summer…really it is. It is right up there with sunscreen.

And is it bad that i like chanel?

Rachael July 7, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Hey it could be worse. My grandma smelled like Givenchey and stale cigarettes. (love you grammy!)

Yvonne Moss July 8, 2009 at 12:56 am

So funny!

Unknown Mami July 8, 2009 at 1:30 am

Now I know what you wear to bed at night.

insider53 July 8, 2009 at 4:23 am

I’m sorry you didn’t like your grandma. Mine was just the opposite and she wore Avon’s Topaz. There isn’t anything wrong with bug spray, why I hear in ancient Egypt citronella was the scent of Kings.

Andrea July 9, 2009 at 12:15 am

Hilarious. Sorry it *stung,* but it is sweet that you have a scent! ;)

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