Monday, October 5, 2009

Bath Time Follies

It's a great irony to me that the very things that my children have forced me to give up - baths and rest - are the very things that are most readily available to them and these things are also what they fight off as if they were rabid dogs coming at them with rending teeth. 

"Nooooo!!! Nooooo Daddy!!!" you'd think I was proposing that my daughter bathe in the arctic circle the way she responds. 

The preamble to bath time in our house lasts so long it's like trying to get a new health care bill through congress -- good luck Mr. President. I think it would be easier to get my daughter to eat a vegetable or to share a toy with her brother. 

"But sweetie," I'll cajole, "There's enough dirt on you to grow flowers."

This line of reasoning has rarely been successful. Sometimes, when I pretend I've found a flower growing out of her ear, it will solicit a laugh, but it has almost never brought her to the bathtub. I often have to try many lines of attack before I have a clean child again: 
  1. Logic - if you don't fight, there will be more time for play. 
  2. Clowning - there's a squirrel living in your hair - please shampoo. 
  3. Bribery - I'll wash your favorite shirt for pre-school if you go now. 
  4. Dramatic fainting fits - I'm so sad, my little girl won't take a bath. I'm going to faint. 
  5. Lies - Chipmonks will come to live in your room if you don't bathe. 
  6. Threats - I'll let the chipmonks stay. 
Sometimes I'll luck out and she'll get into the tub before option #6 is on the table. Sometimes I exhaust all other options and have to go nuclear. And as if she was her own sovereign power, she let's loose with her own nukes. 

"I don't like you anymore," she'll counter when all other courses of action have been removed, "I want to go to the Daddy store for a new Daddy."

Ah, the joys of being a father. Tonight the bombast coming from my daughter was so vitriolic, that the cat stopped into the bathroom to make sure everything was on the up and up. 

"Obviously the child does not like water, David," the little feline monarch seemed to say with aloof appraisal of the situation, "Seems perfectly reasonable to me." 

She put her tail up and departed. I was on my own. 

My only consolation is that when things escalate to DEFCON 6, my daughter is almost certainly exhausted. If I can endure the verbal attacks she lays on me long enough to get her clean and into bed, she typically goes to sleep immediately. This was how things went tonight. 

"I want some privacy Daddy," she said when I helped her chose her pajamas and got her into bed with her favorite blanket and stuffed bear. Not five minutes passed before I heard her breathing steadily and sound asleep. 

"You've got more will power than me," my wife said encouragingly when I came downstairs a short time later, "Great job."

I remember not liking bath time as a kid too. If memory serves there was one summer camp where I did not bathe (outside of swimming) for nearly two weeks - at the time, pure bliss. I wonder how I survived to adulthood. I suppose some of this is normal. 

And not every night is a battle. Sometimes she goes in for a cleaning before she remembers she doesn't like soap and things go smoothly. 

I suppose I shouldn't complain. I just long for the day when I won't feel like the warden in the Chateau D'if in the Count of Monte Cristo. I really don't like being this unpopular. 

My son, gratefully is still blissfully un-protesting. I can get him in and out of the tub in minutes - don't know how long this will last. He reserves his fire for bedtime. But that's another chapter all together. 

For tonight, I'm just grateful to have them both clean and in bed. If I wasn't so tired, I'd take a shower. 

Good night. 


humbledmum said...

I didnt realise others go through what I go through too with my son! Thanks for sharing.
Most of the time asking him to have a shower is akin to asking him to do something so terrible, so horrible. Yet when he finally gets into the shower, he'll happily play with the water.

Oh, and it isnt just confined to having a shower. It's also applies to washing hands when we get home, brushing his teeth, changing his clothes.

I believe it's to do with stating their independence.

My strategy when he doesnt want a shower is usually to distract. He loves vehicles, so I've got some large vehicle stickers (meant for tiles) and stickers meant for car windscreens, stuck on the shower screen. So I make shower time fun when he's in a protesting mood. He gets to squirt the engines/wash the fire engine/teddy bear.

Since you have a bathtub, you may want to get some bath toys for her, or washable crayons meant for the bathtub/tiles.

David Sexton said...

I suspected too that I wasn't the only one - thanks for helping me to feel less crazy.

I'll try the toys route. It's a good idea.

I tend to be very business like about these activities - maybe a little more fun would make them less difficult.