About two weeks ago I started noticing a stinky smell in our mini-van. I did a preliminary survey and disposed of some random items that the kids had kicked under or ferreted away under the seats. Over the next week or so, the smell would fade away and then come back with a vengence, seemingly at random.
On Monday I insisted that the kids were not getting out of the car until they collected ALL visible trash from throughout the entire van.
Then one morning Charlotte left for school without her backpack. As I bent down to grab my boots from the coat closet, the most awful smell engulfed me. Imagine the putrifying smell of rotting spoiled yogurt, chicken fertilizer, and moldy meat. Terrified, I opened the back zippered section of Charlotte’s backpack and found decomposing food of some sort. I was so disgusted that I did not even examine it closely enough to identify what it had been.
When Charlotte got home from school that afternoon, she wondered why her backpack was sitting out on the front porch. We had a conversation about what she *thought* was going to happen–was the steeping stench in her backpack going to dispose of itself? did she think the smell would get better? would I have been more angry if she had told me than I am NOW that she had kept it a secret through all the times I had scrunched up my nose and hunted around for the source of the stink?–and she confessed she just didn’t want to admit that it was her backpack.
Out on the porch (because there was no way I was permitting the backpack in the house again), she pulled several prized possessions from a different compartment of her bag, put them in a plastic bag, and left them out there to see if they can be salvaged once aired out. She dumped the remnants of that rotting god-awful refuse into the outdoor trash bin. And if two or three heavy duty washes through the washing machine do not remove the smell, she’ll be using her own money to replace her formerly) lovely Lands End backpack.