my son the mouth-breather

On most mornings, my husband tries to wake up before dawn. It almost never actually happens, but what *does* happen is that his phone’s alarms go off at 3 AM, 4 AM, 5 AM, and 6 AM. With plenty of snoozes in between.

I sleep through all of it.

My son used to get chronic bloody noses. We eventually had his nasal passages cauterized, but before that, there was a good long year of him waking up in the wee hours of the night, screaming, crying, with blood gushing out of his adorable face. He would call for us, frightened out of his little mind: “Papa! Mama!”

I would sleep through all of it.

Loud things happen at our house all the time, and a lot of them happen after lights-out. The cat will spend a half hour hacking up an enormous hairball. Our ancient furnace will shudder, thunk, and sometimes shut down altogether with a god-awful CLANK. A thunderstorm will rant and rage, causing the garbage can to blow over, hit the ground with a thud, and roll down the sidewalk.

I’ll give you one guess as to whether I sleep through all of it.

And just in case you’re wondering, I really am ASLEEP. Not “oh, the baby is crying, pretend you don’t hear it” asleep but “ZzzzzzzzzsdfjsdhSNRKzzzzzz” asleep. My deep sleep is the deep sleep of the gods. It takes me a long time to get there, but once I’m out, I’m OUT. Nothing can wake me.

Except for one thing.

But before I tell you what it is, let me back up for a second and give you a little bit of context.

My son, who is seven years old and an only child, complains a lot about being “cold and scared and lonely” in his bedroom at night. He makes these claims despite the following facts:

  • We let him sleep with the bedroom door wide open;
  • We keep the hallway light on, even though it is brighter than a thousand suns;
  • His bedroom is less than two feet away from our bedroom;
  • We keep the thermostat at a toasty 72 degrees;
  • He has over one hundred thousand million blankets and stuffed animals to keep him warm; and
  • We have provided him with (among other things): a night light, a radio, and a white noise machine.

Oh, and the cat likes to sleep with him. At the foot of his bed. A snuggly warm companion if ever there was one.

my son the mouth-breather by est.1975 at #funny #humor #parenting #est1975blog #est1975 #established1975 @est1975blog
Cold and scared and lonely, my ass.

So. Because of my son’s totally “reasonable” and “legitimate” concern about freezing to death in his sleep, alone and petrified and unloved, his bedtime now heralds a nightly dramatic production of Why Can’t I Sleep In Your Bed With You? A Play in Three Hundred Acts. It usually starts at about 7 PM and wraps up around 9:30 PM, with many glasses of water, trips to the bathroom, goodnight kisses and hugs, and random complaints involved in between. He falls asleep eventually, of course.

For a little while.

But then, anywhere between 4 AM and 6 AM, my dear son will awake from slumber to “use the toilet.” And of course by “use the toilet,” I mean “stumble sleep-drunk into our bathroom for a pee, then forget to flush the john or wash his hands, then climb over us into our bed, while we’re dead asleep and too out of it to fight him off.”

At which point he crams himself between us and falls instantly asleep, with his head turned towards me and his mouth WIDE. OPEN. And that’s when it happens.

I wake up.

If you’ve never smelled the breath of a 7-year-old mouth-breather in the middle of the night, then you should consider yourself one lucky son of a B. Seriously. I mean it. Little-kid morning breath is a gnarly combination of odors so awful they’re almost beyond description. There’s a fungal and tangy element, like overpowering foot stench, yet it’s also somehow rotten and disturbingly sweet, like a decomposing corpse in the bayou. If I were forced to define it in three words, I would use the words “overwhelming,” “putrid,” and “excuse me while I barf.”

My point is that my son’s 4 AM breath has GIRTH. It has HEFT. It has POWER.

It can wake me from a straight-up dead slumber, like nothing else can.

So I have been driven to take preemptive measures, people. I now sleep facing the wall at all times. I build a “head-fort” of pillows before bed, and I dive under it for relief if necessary. In dire situations, when the wretched stench is powerful enough to waft over my shoulders, I resort to emergency evacuation measures and just go sleep in my son’s bed. His pillows smell bad, but they don’t smell anywhere near as bad as his funky, nasty face abyss.

I mean mouth.

my son the mouth-breather by est. 1975 at #funny #humor #parenting @est1975blog #est1975 #est1975blog @established1975


An earlier version of this piece was published in January 2015 on humor/parenting blog A Day in the Life of a Drama Queen’s Momma.

If you haven’t already done so, consider following est. 1975 on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest! I add fresh, hilarious material every single day.

Photo credits:
“Lullaby”: William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) – Lullaby (1875) — Modified
“Two Sleeping Children”: Title = Two Sleeping Children; Year = c.1612-13; Artist=Peter Paul Rubens; Licensing: {{PD-Art}} –Modified

27 Replies to “my son the mouth-breather”

  1. We usually have no problems with our youngest, but watch out if that kid has caught an episode of Ghost Hunters. Shoot that show would no doubt cause me to have sleep issues. But anyway, the last time he was all scared to go to bed, we finally got him to bed but then around midnight he came into our room dragging a sleeping bag. Kind of a pain but at least we didn’t have him breathing on us.

  2. LMAO!! I totally get what your talking about. My soon to be ex was the same way. I always had to face away from him because it was bad! Actually I found that any bad odor wakes me up. Our dog would fart so badly that I she shit in the room. That, of course, would wake me from a dead sleep too.

    1. Kris, I’m with you on the dog farts! And the dog always pretends it’s us!
      Long before I divorced, I left our bedroom for my own because mouth breathers, in addition to smothering you with their breath which seems to be bad no matter what they ate and it was usually the same thing as you and yet you don’t have bad breath…I think, anyway…they also snore! Big time!
      Sarah, you are so lucky to sleep the sleep of the dead. Most any sound will wake me, which is why I prefer the sound of the ocean to keep me asleep…sound machines are the gift of the gods.

  3. Boy, I would love to sleep like the dead. Any little thing in the night wakes me up. And there are always a lot of little things. I don’t think I’ve slept 6 solid hours in years. Years and Years.

    I am a big fan of pillow head forts as well, but in my case it’s an attempt to cut down the volume on the snoring rattling the bed. Some nights it works. Some nights I end up in the spare room.

  4. This was seriously the funniest post I’ve read anywhere! Period. End of story.

    I was laughing so loud my husband came upstairs to see what was happening.

  5. It’s like I’m sleeping at your house. Max used to get the bloody noses all the time. Cauterized? That sounds painful! Miles is the one who gets into bed with us a million times. With his iPod, and then he wants to watch TV on it. Hello? Headphones, buddy! Cat yakking up a giant hairball. Check. Had that one the other night. Was suddenly awakened by that all too horribly familiar sound. Why does it have to be on the rug? Always? And I’m the snooze button person in this family. OMG, I can’t get enough snooze. I like your head fort idea. We do what we can, right? What’s a girl gotta do to get some sleep, anyway?

    1. The cauterization happened when he was 4 or 5 so he wasn’t able to sit still long enough to have it done with the… is it silver nitrate? I dunno. Anyway, he had to be anesthetized, so it didn’t hurt for him one bit, and the bloody noses stopped, thank God.

  6. You have the best captioned pictures EVER. And this post belongs in your “best in show” category, even if it was already published elsewhere.

    Are you sure your son doesn’t sleepwalk himself outside while you’re asleep and hang out with zombies or eat road kill? Why is his breath so awful?! My kids had sweet, sweet breath at that age. Not anymore, though, since they’re gangly teenagers with braces, bacne and B.O. You may have to padlock your door when he gets older because I guarantee you his breath will get worse when he reaches puberty. And he may keep coming in your room–my 14-year-old son still does it about once a week, but we make him sleep in the overstuffed chair.

    1. Well, like I said, my kid mouth-breathes at night. During the day he doesn’t and his breath is perfectly fine. Sadly, at night, it’s disgusting.

      And thank you for the compliments! I wish I had more control over the “Best in Show” feature but WordPress works that out through its own algorithms 🙂

      1. That’s probably because he only eats the bayou marinated road kill at night.

        Hey! This post has made it to “best in show” since I was last on here, on my computer anyway. There it is, nestled in among all of the pelvic organs, naked ladies and masturbation posts.

  7. Little kid breath is amazing. Z is not a mouth breather but what wakes me up is some of my other senses that she offends: Hearing (whining if she’s awake; grinding her teeth if she’s asleep), Taste (her hair in my mouth), Touch (elbows or getting my hair caught up in her violent hair twirling). Smell would be the deal breaker though. Blech.

  8. I love your description of middle of the night mouth odor. Though I’ve never been near a bayou, I can almost smell that shit from Denver just by your words. The struggle is real- my 5 year old was constantly scared of shit in her room- shadows and wolves and whatnot… The middle of the night, when they make their move to invade the parental bed is the worst, and takes much discipline to thwart the little de-villes.

    Great piece- thank you. I hope to smell zero rancid footy-mouth odor on this fine eve, and the same for you.

    1. I’m glad you liked it. I actually have smelled zero rancid footy-mouth odor for the last TWO nights, thanks be to Baby Jesus. But I expect the dry spell will end soon.

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