Baths and babies go together. Slippery skin and splashy noises. Bubbles and pruney fingers. Moments where you know for certain that a bath will both calm and clean a tired soul.
Prepare, with silent tears running down your unprepared face, for that to slip away like the bubbles down the drain.
Right around 3rd grade, Avery started to repel water like acid. He’d complain of the time it took to bathe, the soap in his eyes, all of it. I used to think it was because we were making him handle it himself, and he hates doing anything for himself. He’d come out of a shower with hair that was still dry and claim that his towel worked really well to dry it at warp speed. His hands and feet would be covered in crud, even after what seemed like a reasonable time under running water. I’ve always had a thing for the smell of a freshly washed head of baby hair, and it was around that time that the still funky smell of the top of my kid’s head reminded me that he was no longer a baby.
The bathing arguments were bad enough that Lee and I spent naive weeks blaming the itch of a nasty case of head lice on dirt. (see here: lenaweegreatstart.org/blog/2011/08/05/my-kids-went-to-florida-and-brought-home-more-than-a-silly-t-shirt/)
Through all of this, however, I blamed it on the fact that he is a boy. As a boy, he enjoys gross. Gross smells, gross looks, gross jokes. I chalked up his disdain for clean to his gender.
I tell you now, I was mistaken. It had nothing to do with his gender. Nothing to do with his complete disinterest in the dangers of licking things off the floor.
The irony of all of this is that if you’ve ever stepped foot in a third grade classroom that lacks the miracle of scented oil burners, you know, third graders need their little bodies scrubbed – often.
Third grade is when the hair starts to get greasy and the sweat starts to stink a little. Many a third grader is well versed in deodorant usage, or should be. Those with children younger than age 8 can’t imagine these smelly changes happening so early, but they do. Prepare yourself.
And like I said, suddenly, you child who once spent 2 hours in a tub to finish drawing the Sistine chapel on her belly in soap crayons, will now fight you every time you suggest she scrub the dirt off her discolored hands and feet. EVERY time you offer them a delightfully fruit scented shampoo. EVERY time.
In my house, I only have one child left that is happy to soap herself to her little hearts content. She will be 7 soon, and I plan to relish the next year or so of her fresh shiny hair and sparklingly clean toenails. My heart will warm as she skips herself to the shower every other night as ordered. Because I know what is coming.
How are you prepared for kids who like to wallow in their own bath-less bodies?by