Monday, 25 June 2012

Water Baby

Have you ever tried to bathe a fish?  You know, give it a really good scrub, get its scales all gleaming and sparkly.  No, me neither, really it was a foolish question, but now that the idea is in your head let me give you a taste of bath night in our house.  It involves no fish, but a fairly good substitute.

Bath night is exciting, mostly for little Miss Jones (we have about a million things that we call our daughter, the vast majority of which are in no way related to her actual name, or any distinguishing features, they just tend to be the first things that pop into our heads.  Some stick, some fall by the wayside in the manner of someone that has just developed a cramp and needs to wait to let it ease off while the rest of the party goes on ahead.  Many of these names will crop up on the blog, I’ll try to flag up that it is the daughter that I am talking about, but sometimes might forget.  Just assume it is).

I think we’ll try that paragraph again, it having been hijacked somewhat. 

Bath night is exciting, mostly for little Miss Jones, less so for her two frazzled parents.  The cycle runs something like this.  She loves going in the bath, hates having her hair washed and then is absolutely determined never to leave the bath in her life once the hair is washed.  There is a very fixed routine for the bath.  Each of the various stages coming with their own particular challenges and dangers.

I am chief bath runner.  This is a challenging and complicated role which I try to perform to the best of my ability every bath night.  It involves running the hot and cold taps for the required length of time until the bath is at the appropriate level and temperature.  I know, I know, I was surprised when my wife first suggested that this was the job for me, and I will admit to being pretty trepidatious the first time, but I had psyched myself up, read the requisite twenty page manual, had a couple of practice runs with the sink and I think it went alright.  Now I could probably do it with my eyes closed; no, please, all these awards are just too much.

Whilst I am performing the delicate task of filling the bath, my wife has the relatively simple job of getting the child naked ready for the bath.  This is harder than it sounds, or at least the ruckus that comes from the bedroom every time would suggest that it is.  To be fair other than when she was very little our daughter has had a pathological dislike of having her clothes either removed or put on, you’d think that at least one way would meet with her approval, but no.  She will fight you every step of the way, both ways, so my wife is on a loser here.

Once nakedness has been achieved the child is released to charge through and witness the spectacle of a full bath.    Excitement is unbounded, daddy is congratulated and then looked to for assistance in getting into the bath.  This having been accomplished, there is then ten minutes or so of general chaos, splashing, bubbles, the odd tsunami, an occasional attempt to beat the current world free-diving record, which, in N’s category, currently stands at 160 metres, (she hasn’t yet come close.  And if you follow the link prepare to be truly amazed).

At this point, once she has been washed all over, we enter hair-washing territory.  She always knows that this is coming, and tries as many means as possible to escape the ultimate humiliation of having her hair washed.  These include wheedling, begging, shouting at the top of her voice for her mummy, squirming and pulling (which often has the effect of getting her hair wet anyway), bribery (she can’t say this but I have wondered whether what she’s doing when she screams in the bath is promising to be good if she doesn’t have to have her hair washed, this has the added benefit of explaining why she isn’t good the rest of the time).  None of these having worked, and the hair having been washed, we enter phase three of the trauma. 

This consists of removing her from the place that she was absolutely adamant she wanted to get out of not a minute ago.  Doesn’t sound tough?  Well, suddenly, this has become the only place she wants to be.  As though she’s been studying and found that somewhere deep in her past she has some Atlantean relatives and is intent on going back to her roots. 

Whatever  her reasons she does not want to get out, and of course at this point she is soaking wet and impossible to grab hold of.  Like trying to grab an eel which has wrapped itself in a hundred wet bars of soap.  Thus there is now an intricate dance as my daughter and I waltz over to mummy who is holding the towel on the other side of the bathroom.  All the time she is struggling and I am trying to perfect my triple salchow on the ice-rinkesque wet floor.   We’re hardly Torvill and Dean.   I still struggle with the third rotation, I think London is an Olympics too soon for me.

Of course, once we’ve actually reached mummy and the drying begins she relaxes and is happy again quite quickly and so another bath night is negotiated and the child is clean again for at least five minutes.  I’m not sure, but I do think getting a fish might have been easier.


  1. Oh how I remember those days of toddler bathing. Funny you should mention the Olympics - I always thought this particular activity should be an Olympic sport. Mine are older now. 8yr old boy is now allergic to soap (he says) so I shove him under the shower every couple of days, and 6yr old girl is more mermaid than fish these days. Still, I miss the FUN of those early bathtimes (it is fun, I know you think that really...)

    I wanted to tag you in a meme once I have finished writing my post - you have to write a post answering my 11 questions, then think of your own 11 questions and 'tag' 11 other bloggers. Are you up for it? shout if not.

    1. That sounds exciting. I'd love to give it a go.

      They are fun aren't they? Don't let anyone know I said that will you?

  2. A fish probably would have been easier (no need for undressing and dressing, for one thing), but they're not as cute to cuddle :)

  3. Brilliant! Weirdly, I find it slightly easier with two children (now that they're a bit older. When they were 2.5 and 6 months it was definitely more than twice as hard...)
    Now they sit and splash each other and play together in the bath whilst I, ahem, look at Twitter on my phone.
    I read someone recently saying that it's a shame bedtime comes at the end of the day when we are all tired out and fractious. It should be at the beginning, when we're rested and happy and hopeful and patient. This definitely applies to bathtime too!

  4. Sitting and splashing would be good. I imagine she'd enjoy it more with someone else to play with.