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Last weekend, Medium called a family meeting. We haven’t had one in months and I had no idea what triggered her to think of it.

She explained her problem and clearly communicated her expectations for our behavior. We raised our eyebrows (I may have smirked a little) and nodded understandingly. Every one of us promised to do better in the future.

We dispersed to our posts in front of various screens and quite frankly, I forgot the whole thing.

That is, until this morning, when I staggered into the bathroom for a shower and found this written reminder of my girl’s instructions:

Protected by Ziploc

She is her mother’s daughter. The “…or else” was implied.

I relinquish my role as Primary Kid Wrangler to my husband after dinner. The exceptions being those I-can’t-take-it-anymore days when I am desperate to punch the proverbial time card the moment he sets foot in the house and those nights he is working late, has a meeting, or is going out with his Peeps. Most nights, though, our deal is: I clean up the kitchen and he cleans up the kids.

We’ve never talked about this division of work. It happened organically, and over time, it became our pattern. I am happy with this arrangement (he might not be but I’m not asking) and on those nights I am required to pull double duty, I am reminded how lucky I am that he is an involved parent.

But, as in most things, we do things differently.

“Mommy,” said Henry, splashing in his bath. “We thkip da shampoo tonight?”

“What? No. We have to wash your hair.”

His scowl matched his displeased mutter. “Daddy doeth.”

He pointed at the plastic rinse cup on the opposite side of the tub. “I’m thirthty. Gimme dat.”

“So you can, what? Drink the bathwater? No.”

“Pweeth?”

I raised an eyebrow and stared him down (this is easy to do when you have a 30 year advantage).

He glared at me. “Daddy doeth.”

I attempted to wash the grime from his ears. “Are you growing cabbages in there?”

“No, Mommy, don’t!” he screamed. “Daddy doethn’t do dat!” He thrashed from side to side trying to escape the dreaded washcloth. By the time bath time was over, I was soaked and the bathroom floor was dotted with flotsam from our battle. We both wished that his father was there.

He had one last question for me while I was drying him off. “Mommy? Can you thtand up and pee?”

“No.”

He smirked. “Daddy doeth.”

I dislike being asked questions with obvious answers. It makes me incredulous and cross. In an effort to hold onto my sanity, I often cloak my irritation with sarcastic humor.

It must be said that I am not always troll-like. I do try to modulate my exasperation levels and I will make allowances for persons in my company who have just begun using full sentences.

But when my patience evaporates, and it inevitably does, these are the kinds of exchanges my kids and I have:

“Why do you have to get out of the tub? Because if you don’t, you’ll get sucked down the drain.”

“Are we leaving now? No. We’ll wait until you scrub the floor on your hands and knees with toothbrushes and your brother licks the toilet clean.”

Recently, the kids were dancing on my last nerve. It was bath night and things weren’t going well. Multiple objections, unresponsive zombie stares, and various forms of dilly-dallying had me at wits’ end.billygoat

“Liam!” I hissed through clenched teeth. “For the last time, stop reading and go take your shower! Do you want to keep smelling like a goat?”

Unperturbed, he placed a bookmark between the pages of his book and casually closed its cover. Looking me straight in the eye, he shot me a wicked smile. “Ma-aa-aaa,” he bleated.

I started laughing. The kind of laugh that makes your belly hurt. He got me. He gets me. And with that, my goat-boy ambled off to bathe.

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