Raising Boys: Conversations about Farts

So, Leo – five years old and, in general, a holy terror – comes up to me, gives me a hug and asks this:

“Mom, can a person not fart?”

I looked at him for a minute and asked, “You mean, is it possible? Of course it’s possible. I’m not farting right now. Neither are you. That I know of, I mean.”

He shook his head. “No,” he said. “I mean like forever. If a person needed to fart and they never did what would happen? Where would the fart go?”

He stared at me, his eyes wide and intense. I had, I knew – I knew! – several options before me. Certainly, I could explain the reason and purpose of the fart, where they come from, why they happen, why they’re more common in some animals than others. Leo held his breath. He pressed his lips together and clasped his hands in front of his heart. There was, in all truth, only one thing that I could possibly say.

“I’m pretty sure,” I said, “that if the fart never comes out, then the person probably explodes.”

On my son’s face: Total joy; ardent love; a look of benevolence and grace.

From his lips: “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That was a good one, Mommy! You’re the funniest mommy ever!”

“Thank you, thank you. I’m here all week. Tip your waitress,” I said.

Leo ran to his room, found a quarter and gave it to me.

I will keep that quarter forever.


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