WARNING: THE FOLLOWING POST IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF NOSE.
That may be a slight overstatement, but this is still a little gross. About two weeks ago, maybe less, I went into my son's room to wake him up and found him curled up in a ball under his covers at the foot of his bed, his bared back revealing the fact that he was naked. He's only 6, so though certainly curious, this wasn't the gross part, like it may be a decade from now.
As I roused him from slumber, I asked him why he was sleeping at the foot of his bed and where his jammies were. He didn't seem to know. The confused look on his face was a combination of residual sleep, a belief that this was entirely normal behavior, and maybe embarrassment. I asked him if he'd peed in the night. He answered no. I only believed him because his bed linens were dry to the touch and odorless to the closely pressed nose. I figured this was just a weird night, and hoped it was not the beginning of a phase. The entire episode was quickly forgotten.
Early last week I entered my son's room to wake him in the morning. He sleeps with his door shut to prevent Lucy from entering at night and absconding with something precious just to turn it into a chew toy. I opened his door and was overwhelmed with the odor of stale urine. I went over to my boy and checked him for wetness (this may look like a simple crotch grab to many, but the expert mom will always recognize the scientific information gathering move for what it is). I felt his sheets, blankets, comforter, pillows, and they all felt dry. I started sniffing them and none contained the stench that wafted through the room. I then began to wonder if I'd really smelled what I thought I had. The scent seemed to have dissipated, and I couldn't tell what I was smelling. What it just a bad case of morning breath permeating the room? Well, our mornings are busy, and I couldn't find a source, so I moved on.
Every morning this continued. Bad smell, origin unclear, move on. Once Larry got back from California, I had him sniff the boy's room early morning to see if it was just me. He smelled it too. I finally washed all bedding. I figured this must be the problem, even though they really did not smell to me. I figured he had indeed peed that night a week or so ago, and just did it early enough in the night that all was dry by morning. But there was no blast of odor as the hot water in the washer hit the sheets, presumably drawing any dried up scents out of them. And the laundry room didn't smell as the second load waited for the first.
The first morning with the clean bedding, I entered the room to the scent of dryer sheets. Ah. Good. Guess that was it after all, I figured. Number 4 confessed that he had peed in bed the day I found him disrobed. He had been scared to tell me the truth. That must be because I routinely lock up and torture bed wetters in this family. Anyway, problem solved.
The second morning with the clean bedding, the stale urine was back. I began to be very frustrated. I began to get short with my son, questioning him about the source of this odor, and what pee pee garments he may have hidden where. My husband implicated Lucy, and even though she hasn't peed in the house in well over a year and a half, I sniffed out the carpet. Nothing. This is an elusive smell. The more you look for it, the less you can smell it. And you can't really smell it much during the day, even though #4 keeps his door shut then, too.
Yesterday afternoon, as I was preparing my home for the arrival of 8 & 9 year old girls from church for a service activity, I offered five dollars and one cent to the child who could produce the source of the odor. After a few minutes, I restlessly joined them, sniffing out individual toys. Two stuffed animals were found to be harboring some urine smells. They were removed to the laundry room. I found the toys. But I didn't get paid.
I need to go in this morning to wake up that little man. I've already sniffed his room and the laundry room. Laundry room, clean. #4's room, stinky. My sniffer is sniffed out. My dog is no reliable bloodhound, because I've thought of bringing her in there to see where she'll gravitate. I think I have no choice but to burn the contents of the room and start over.
Post Script: A few years back Larry and I went to Seattle for a breathing technique tutorial for Larry's asthma. We brought back a T-shirt with a little boy pirate named Stinky Pete for #4. Stinky Pete's speech bubble read, "We don't take no stinkin' baths!" #4 loved this shirt, and quoted it frequently, except that he pronounced it "stinksin'." Very adorable.