The other day a group of girls from junior high walked up to me during lunch recess. We chatted for a while about books and the upcoming student council elections. One girl leaned towards me and inhaled deeply through her nose.
“Mrs. Kendall,” she said. “You smell like books.”
“Books?” I love books as much as the next person–probably more–I don’t want to smell like books. “What do books smell like?”
“Oh, you know. Like when you open an old book and the smell just hits your face.”
“I do know, which is why I’m concerned. Books usually smell dusty, musty, and old. Are you saying I smell like an old lady covered in dust?” I could see her wondering when the conversation went so horribly wrong, so I made sure to laugh. First, you need a thick skin to work around kids. Second, I knew she meant it as a compliment. Third, I like teasing the kids.
“Well, no” said her friend. “It’s not that you smell bad. You just smell like our library.”
Here is when I started to get a little nervous because with all the old books, the library does start to smell dusty. I melt scented wax whenever possible, but sometimes I forget. (I’ve been forgetting since March.)
There is one teacher on campus who the kids swear has a “stinky” classroom. It’s not true, but school rumors are like snowballs rolling down hill; they gain size and speed. To hear the kids talk about it, her room is littered with old cabbage and decomposing swamp creatures.
“Do I even want to know what our library smells like?”
“It smells like you.”
“And I smell like old books.”
“Kind of. But mainly you smell like mom.”
I can handle smelling like a mom.