After School

My child comes home smelling of other women. The smells surround him like a cloud — flowery, powdery, some days citrusy. When he gets off the bus, I hug his small frame to me in an attempt to replace it with my mommy smell, to make him familiar again. My nose itches with all that he did today that I did not get to see.

His communication notebook means the world to me since, unlike his brother, he cannot tell me about his day. It’s the first thing I go for, as soon as we’re inside. Here are a few excerpts:

“We were impressed with his attention span and also (hooray!) his fine motor efforts.”

“John said ‘Hi’ and ‘Ball'”

“He really likes to color! We were impressed at his little circles inside bigger shapes.”

“He was in a great mood today, very responsive and happy. He was following visually in all directions, where we had not seen him look upwards much before this.”

“He keeps surprising us… we did not expect him to love painting. But he really did.”

“We just love John!”

“John has been singing with us…he sang: ‘John, John, get on the bus, John, John.”

He is only three — already so independent and in a completely different way than I could have imagined.

I love him so.


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  • I use to tease Cotton that he was cheating on me smelling of other women:) I know what you mean about the book, I open the communication book, everday, as if it contains the test results of an important medical procedure.

  • Same here with the smells and going for the book right away. There are days when not one word is written in the book and it kills me so much. I try not to let it bother me as much as it used to. When Andrew comes home smelling like shaving cream, I can usually guess he had a difficult day from a sensory perspective and they attempted to calm him with having him play with shaving cream. With a child who doesn’t use words to tell us about their day, we find other non-verbal clues to help us fill in the blanks.

    It sounds like John is doing great in his new class and that all the women are falling in love with him.

  • Ah, without those communication books where would we all be? I also rely heavily on it and know that feeling that Eileen speaks of when it is empty.

    It sounds like John is doing awesome and is very much adored by his family and his teachers!

  • I absolutely *live* for the brief scribbled comments my son’s teacher writes on his daily sheet. He also has autism, but is becoming more verbal and working on answering simple questions. (he is 4 1/2). We use the daily sheet to set him up for easy questions like “what did you have for snack today at school” or “what was the book at storytime today?” When she adds a comment on another topic, we pour over it looking for meaning and imagining how it played out at school.

  • The smelling of other women used to bother me when I picked SB up from preschool. I too would rush to snuggle him and replace their cloying scents with my non-cloying (of course) one. Now that he’s in kindergarten, he doesn’t come home smelling like his teachers; I also no longer wear perfume since it bothers him so much.

    I miss THE BOOK. But I’m pleased to say his new teacher is making a concerted effort to keep me informed.

  • Beautiful post! This almost made me cry, because I remember how painful it was to send Liam to preschool two mornings when he was 3. The one thing I noticed in particular was how he smelled “different”–of other women.

  • Hi Kal,
    I just spent a crazy amount of time reading your backlog. I am so moved by your story, and your two amazing, brave – not to mention beautiful – little boys.
    Thank you for sharing all of this with the world. I’m sure your attitude and ability to roll with the punches are a huge source of comfort to many.
    I hope your boys continue to develop as well as Sam has up until this point, and I will definitely be keeping up with your blog.
    Thank you again,


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