Tea was a bloodhound in a past life. He needs to smell everything.
There is no sneaking food around him. It can be an hour since I ate a handful of crackers and he will awaken from his nap, sniff the air, lean in to me, and point an accusatory finger: “You ate my goldfish!”
I save empty spice containers for him to use in his play kitchen. Cumin, ginger, cinnamon, garlic. I don’t wash them out before letting him play with them, and he has learned their scents. He uncaps them while “cooking” to tell me which spices he’s using to season his soup.
We visited an herb garden this weekend, and he went through it with his nose. There was a volunteer there who kept trying to engage him. “My son is looking for the basil”, I told her. She showed us a “chocolate flower”. “Where’s the basil?” he asked. She led him to cups of leaves holding raindrops and told him that hummingbirds stop there to drink. Not giving them a second look, he repeated, “Where’s the basil?” She pointed out an interesting spiderweb. “Where’s the basil?” he asked, growing inpatient. She showed him a sage bush swarming with pollinators. “Where’s the BASIL?” he pleaded. Seriously lady, I thought, I know you think these things are more interesting to little boys, but really, my kid’s nose wants to smell it some basil! When he finally found it, he buried his head right in the leaves. We had to drag him away.
Is there some way to nurture this passion? A sommelier class for tots? A perfume-blending kit?