Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bath Tub Time Machine

"If your kids are giving you a headache, follow the directions on the aspirin bottle. Especially the part that says 'keep away from children.'" ~Susan Savannah

It seems most parents love bath time. "It's so cute," they say. "It's so fun," they say.

It's so NOT, I say.

A few nights ago, my wife came home from work and offered to give our daughter a shower before dinner. I'm the chef in the family, so occasionally this is my reward. While I can't speak to exactly what happened upstairs, I can say the end result was a lot of crying from my daughter and shouting from my wife. And let me be clear: my wife is not a shouter. She's the patient one, the calm one. So something must have gone terribly wrong.

What happened was that our daughter failed to listen to anything, and the whole situation spiraled out of control to the point that my wife came downstairs by herself and said we should start dinner without our daughter because she was still upstairs crying... wet and naked.

Maybe we're in the minority, but bath time is the eating your Brussels sprouts of parenthood. It's another chore. More chaos to an already chaotic day.

And I have to admit, on most bath nights, I'll conveniently 'forget' to walk the dog before dinner. Yes... I would rather pick up my dog's feces than bathe my daughter. True story. When Luna and I return, the bath is already underway.

Manipulative? No.

Shrewd? Yes (and let's not forget modest).

Why do I feel this way about what so many consider a warm and delightful ritual of childhood?

If only it were this easy
The devil, as it turns out, is in negotiating the details. When we're going to take a bath. If we're going to take a bath (she tries to make this a negotiation but it never is). How long we're going to stay in the bath. Yeah... she fights getting into the bath, then she fights getting out.

And then there are some nights - I kid you not - when she doesn't want to get her hair wet. In the bath. Seriously. She's a miracle.

I think it's our fault. We exude annoyance on bath nights. And that's only three or four times a week. As a result, she doesn't want to do it either.

So now we do showers a lot. They get the job done... and in a fraction of the time.

We actually sell her on the shower too. We have to do that because you know, your hair is definitely getting wet early and often in a shower. How do we convince her of the benefits of showering? We tell her we'll have more time to play if she opts for it.

Those were the days
Manipulative? No.

Shrewd? Yes.

Sure, there was a time when bathing my daughter was enjoyable. Memorable... for good reasons. It was also before she spoke, expressed opinions, or had full control of her limbs.

But a shower is a much better alternative than a straight jacket.


  1. First of all you have to stop talking about Brussel Sprouts like try area bad thing... They are my favorite vegetable! Second there is a reason why we had "bath night" when I was a kid and why I now do that with my children now. Unless they have mold growing on them I will find anyway to NOT give my kids a bath. It used to be fun... Now it's just annoying!

  2. You're right on both accounts: Brussels sprouts aren't that bad. It's a cliche and I should find a more creative metaphor.

    And of course, bath time sucks.

  3. Funny. I guess all kids are going to have something they fight us on tooth and nail. All of my kids love bath time. Sometimes I'll let my oldest just soak for half an hour because it's easier than trying to entertain him. Although, I keep the water level low because he likes to lie back and relax. I always watch him because he'll even fall asleep in there. But there are plenty of other things--an inordinate amount--that he does give me a really hard time with. You pick your battles, and it sounds like showering is a good compromise.

  4. 1. Brussel sprouts are gross. :)
    2. Bath time is pretty enjoyable in our house. Granted, my 2 month old just lies in her little plastic tub, and my 18mo quite enjoys bath time. He'll just hang out, play with his toys, play with the bubbles, blow bubbles, giggle when he farts, etc...

    Sorry bath time is so rough in your house, I hope the shower route continues to work for you. :)

  5. I have a shrewd suggestion. Bribery. Set an alarm. If she finishes her bath before the alarm goes off, she gets ice cream for dinner for a week, and a new pony.

    I use short cartoons on Netflix or DVD as a reward. Bugs Bunny is 7 minutes long. A small price to pay for a fast peaceful bath.

    And yes, bath time does suck.

  6. My son hated baths from the start and still does. Therefore, like you, I hate making him do it (for my sake, not his). So we now figure that going out on a rainy day for more than 5 minutes pretty much counts. My big fear is over the next year or two when puberty takes its stinky toll and one bath every 3 years will no longer suffice.

    Thanks for sharing this one.

    Oh, and Daddy's in Charge, I guess there's no accounting for taste. You are SO outnumbered when it comes to your passion for Brussels sprouts.


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