It was inevitable. One cannot have a BLOG and children and not cover the topic of flatulence...more commonly know as the fart.
Such a silly word really. And if you look it up on dictionary.com you can hear how to pronounce it properly!
Admittedly, I found it hilarious, in a very juvenile sort of way, to look up words like fart, shit, fuck and asshole (and even the C word!) and hear a woman’s voice say them out loud in such a dignified, librarian-ish tone. I am thoroughly ashamed of myself and only mention it so you can try it yourself and feel the same staggering shame. giggle
Not to beleaguer the point, but the word itself has been around for a long time and has been used by highly respected authors for centuries. For example, here is an excerpt from a well-known tome of English literature, The Canterbury Tales by famous British poet Geoffrey Chaucer (1340–1400). Taken from The Miller’s Tale:
This Nicholas anoon leet flee a fart
As greet as it hadde been a thonder-dent
As greet as it hadde been a thonder-dent
Is that not brilliant? Nicholas let out a fart as great as a crack of thunder. Yes, it sounds better his way, but please, isn't it a hoot that they spoke about toots in such a fashion? Hoot and toot...maybe I should try poetry too? giggle2
In my family, as in most I would hazard to guess, farting was tolerated as a natural body function and ignored if possible between family members. For adults, it was chiefly a source of embarrassment, especially in mixed or new company. However, for children (and some eternally infantile grown-ups) farting is an endless source of entertainment.
I once had a boyfriend who used to lift his leg up like a dog about to water a hydrant, every time he farted. Charming as this was, I dumped him. I figured if he did this while dating, what would he do once married? Another boyfriend I had never allowed a LAP (Loud and Proud) one rip, but specialized in SAD (Silent and Deadly) ones that snuck up on you like an invisible hand and choked you until your eyes watered. Innocently, he would never say a word or make eye contact, like I would think a waft of putrescence blew in from some mysterious source and he was free and clear! He put the gust in the word disgusting. It was a short romance.
But the piece de resistance was a serious relationship I once had with a man who used to let go a violent, window-rattling mass of gas so big that his ass could have been marketed as a natural resource. Worse still, it only occurred immediately after sex. Needless to say, it was a inclination that suddenly started well into the relationship, not at the beginning of it. But perhaps I was being ungrateful. Maybe it was his way of paying me a compliment, like burping is considered a compliment to a Chef in some countries. The louder the burp, the bigger the compliment. If so, then all I can say is “DAMN I’m good in bed!”
When my children reached a certain age, they knew it was uncouth to fart indiscriminately around the house without consideration of others, but let’s just say that I was outnumbered and gave up making it a big issue.
But when I re-married, and Peter moved into the house, things changed. A decent, gentlemanly-like man with class and style, he set out very few rules for the kids to follow under his roof, but there was one in particular he was adamant about: no passing gas within range of others and especially not at the table during meals. One could easily go to the bathroom or leave the room for this necessity and save everyone some unpleasantness. It was a matter of basic manners that Peter grew up with in Germany and with 8 children in his family, it was a politeness that was strictly and dutifully obeyed. I heartily agreed with this rule and we set out to teach the children proper etiquette.
It wasn’t long before the kids were put to the test. One night during supper, I looked across the table to see my son’s face look up with a start, like a deer caught in the headlights, and jumping up quickly, he began to run to the bathroom. But before he took two steps, he lost control and a blast of pent up gas exploded and rattled on like a machine-gun until he shut the bathroom door down the hallway. We killed ourselves laughing. Even Peter, who had his elbows on the table, head in hands, had to smile. Then we heard a meek ‘Sorry Papa!” from the bathroom and we broke out in fits of laughter. giggle3
This, of course, happened again a few days later with our other son and it became clear that only the young males in our clan needed time to hone the skills necessary to keep from befouling our air.
On one solemn occasion, however, the boy’s inability to master the Art of Fart paid off. And considering the circumstances, I didn’t even chastise them, save for a look of feigned disappointment. We were flying to Germany and with four young kids in tow (including our one year old), the 9 hour flight was an exhausting endeavor. Peter went through German Customs quickly with baby Katharina (who is a German citizen as well as Canadian) but we foreigners had to wait in an endless line. When we finally had our turn at Customs, we gathered around the partially enclosed booth that held the stern looking agent and began answering a bunch of questions about our intended visit. Maddeningly, he seemed bent on giving us the long, methodical, drawn-out version of entry protocol until one of the boys (who has never fessed up to this day) let loose a SAD fart and it slowly made its way up into the booth.
Needless to say, with a look of total revulsion, our passports were stamped and returned faster than you can say ‘sauerkraut und schnitzel’. giggle4
Our girls seemed to catch on to this rule quicker and even our youngest knew the lay of the land. Once, when she was about 5 years old, we went out with good friends, a Chinese couple, to an authentic Chinese restaurant where they said they would have to order for us. When the servers came to our table, Katharina asked in a loud, clear voice, “Excuse me...could you tell me where the Farting Room is?”. Luckily, they didn’t know any English (so I choose to believe) and just smiled quizzically. She’d never used this term before and we were just as dumbfounded as our friends, who thought it prudent to suddenly not understand English as well.
We made it clear that she need only ask for the bathroom in the future, but I confess that I was tempted to train her in Selective SAD Wind Breaking, so we could pass through Customs quickly on our next trip.
But then again, she might not be allowed on-board like all other restricted combustibles...