More riveting “parental” stuff

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There are many things, parentally, that I find distasteful. For instance, the disposal of the past week’s Diaper Genie collection, yuck! Finding three-day-old milk bottles under the couch and trying not to gag while cleaning it…the worst! I mean, there are just some things about parenting that are not pretty.

And then there are things about parenting that probably don’t bother most people, but which bother a very small segment of the population. For me, it’s bathtime. In the beginning, I’ll admit that it was cute watching the boys together in the bathtub. They splashed. They laughed. They played together. It was fun. But that got old after like, a week. Now the two fight over who gets to sit in the front of the tub where all the hot water is. They argue over the few meager bath toys that we can find that, when you remove them from the tub, don’t drip water for the next ten hours. And of course, there is the “Hey, I’m naked and I have this thing between my legs!”

I’m sure I need not elaborate.

Suffice it to say that in any given week, if I can cajole CareerMom into giving the boys a bath, I will happily clean the dishes, feed the dog, paint the house…whatever…as long as I don’t have to give the boys a bath. But of course, this is not always feasible, so at least twice a week, I do it.

Over the years, we have tried out a number of bath toys in an effort to get them to stay in the tub, thereby using up precious evening time. Time that we don’t have to spend trying to find something else to keep them occupied with. So we’ve bought pirate ships and boats, floating Thomas the Tank Engine trains and duckies. Heck, I’ve even dumped in the boys’ Transformers.

For some reason though, CareerMom keeps buying Bath Paints. If you’re not familiar with them, they look like this:

image

So, the kids sit in the bath and they squeeze this paint out and I guess it supposedly helps them creatively.

Whatever…

What I’ve found instead, is that the kids, rather than using the paint sparingly to create their own personal Renoir; instead, they squeeze out huge, oozing gobs of it that run over the side of the tub, down the tub wall, and spread out across my white tile floor.

Oh and it stains the grout. Yeah, it’s great like that.

CareerMom purchases these things about once every 6 months and each time, it plays out the same way:

Scenario:

La dee dah, the boys are in the tub.
“Daddy, can you get the bath paints?”

Yes,” I say, “But now you know the rules. Make sure it doesn’t run down the outside of the tub. Keep the paint INSIDE OK?”

“OK,” they agree; their eyes lighting up as I open each bottle of paint just enough for their little hands to squeeze out a tiny dollup.

Meanwhile, I get involved in something else in one of their rooms.

You boys OK in there?” I ask from the other room.

“Yes!” they holler.

I fiddle some more; perhaps checking the weather on the computer. Finally, after a while I drift back into the bathroom and (insert music from the bathtub scene from “The Shining”) ARK ARK ARK — There is paint everywhere! It’s in huge puddles on the edge of the tub and it’s running down the sides and it’s (GASP!) on the tile and in the grout!

Now, onlookers will tell me that at this point, I lose it. I’m not sure what happens really…it’s all a little fuzzy. But what I do know is that by the time the red haze in my eyes has disappeared and I can think straight again, the bathroom sink is full of bubbly paint colors and empty paint bottles from where I’ve poured them all down the drain. Both boys are sitting in the tub, their little spiked hair punctuating the shell-shocked look of panic on their face as they cringe away from my gaze. And I’m panting like I’ve just run a mini-marathon. My heartrate is spiking and I have a sudden desire to join the World Kickboxing Federation and beat the ever-loving crap out of some punk just to say I can!

Oh, I might also mutter, louder than necessary for anyone who “might” be listening, “I don’t know why your mother keeps buying this stuff! It’s the same thing each time! You boys cannot play with this without making a huge mess.”

After some time, and some deep, cleansing breaths, I realize how crazy I’ve acted and I recall how, after my Adopted Mom walked out on our family a mere two years after adopting my brother and me, and after my dad remarried, that I was playing outside one day and got all muddy. Now, this wasn’t something a child was supposed to do according to my Adopted Mom. Her idea of a child was one that stayed perfectly clothed and clean throughout the day on the off chance that the Mother of the Year Foundation happened to drop by to see what kind of a job she was doing.

Getting dirty was liable to get a pointy nailed finger down your throat (don’t ask!). Anyway, I remember how, upon realizing how filthy I was, I pulled a Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” and made up this crazy lie about tripping in some muddy water. Then I stumbled into the house sobbing hysterically and sought out my step-mother so I could try and ameliorate any repercussions with a preemptive storyline. And I remember how, after seeing me and seeing how distraught I was, she calmly proclaimed, “Sweetie, kids are supposed to get dirty and make messes. This is what you do. Now go get cleaned up.” And with that, she gave me a big hug and sent me on my way. God bless her!

I try to remember this with my kids, even as the Adopted Mom part of me wants to flip out and do unspeakable things. Most of the time, I’m successful, except when the mess is semi-permanent and costs me money (and time) to fix. So yet again, another $4 in bath toys, literally down the drain.

Now, I know I can’t be alone in this. Anyone else have an irrational reaction to a perfectly rational kid-activity?

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6 thoughts on “More riveting “parental” stuff

    trishatruly said:
    January 15, 2009 at 9:59 am

    I used to drive H. round the bend by giving the girls Play Doh and chalks and things. He’d come home and rant and rave that it was getting into the carpet and what was I thinking and I would explain that I was helping them explore their creativity and he would “forbid” me from getting anymore of the stuff.
    The funny thing is, this is the man who clipped his toenails in the kitchen and left the bits and pieces fall where they may, and this is the man who constantly was would leave used Kleenex all over the house and this is the man who picked his nose and …well, I won;t go into that.
    He was/is a nasty man but he HATED when the kids made a mess.
    If he’d shown half the interest and put in half the amount of time that you do in keeping things tidy I would have been much more sympathetic.
    (Am I going to have to choke the living daylights out of ADOPTIVE MOTHER #1 when I hear about the fingernail thing in its entirety? Beeyotch won’t want all THIS coming down on her ass! πŸ™‚ )

    RE: HA HA HA! The things you lived with that others have no idea about…(course, for some people, it’s a little bit of Kharmic justice dontcha think? πŸ™‚
    You probably don’t want to hear about all the “Wonderful” things Adopted Mom did. Some things are best kept under the covers, though they will forever haunt me. But, I did get my dad out of the deal and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

    Eric said:
    January 15, 2009 at 10:47 am

    I give my niece and nephew baths all the time…
    now, granted, this novelty may wear off, but I seriously enjoy it!
    I look forward to it b/c it is something they enjoy doing and apparently their parents don’t mind if I step in for this… now it hits me after reading this post…

    They are sooooooooooooooo over the novelty of giving the child a bath so when someone steps in to do the duty, they are elated!

    Anyway, when it comes to my child, will it be the same????

    And, thanks, duly noted, no bath paints with tile floors! LOL!

    Dude, you are a great dad, even if you don’t think you are.

    Eric

    RE: Now you begin to understand grasshopper. And all along you thought they were just humoring U. Eric! HA! We parents (as you’re about to learn) become masters of deception. It will serve you well in the years to come!

    birdpress said:
    January 15, 2009 at 11:23 am

    I also have a bit of rage threatening to rise in me when I think about the adopted mom #1 bit. I want to hug the stepmom though.

    Want me to get you a grooming apron for bath time? How about some squeaky toys? No? Then I got nothin’. I can easily see myself losing it over the staining the grout thing though, so go easy on yourself there.

    RE: Does the apron go over the tub, or on you?

    Romi said:
    January 15, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    “splashed. They laughed. They played together. It was fun. But that got old after like, a week. ”

    Oh my gosh, I love your “real life” view of parenting…I have to say I learn a thing or two when I visit here πŸ˜‰

    As for the bath paints, I have never heard of such a thing….what do you even do with paint in the bathtub? Like paint the bath-tub walls? I really don’t get it….and anything like that is just asking for trouble…I would have never let my kids even know that something so messy exists….creativity? Washable markers and paper, it has worked for decades and decades…

    …but once the “bath paint” has been purchased, once the kids know about it, then yes I guess it is true, kids DO have to be kids; they don’t think like adults, and it’s good that you’re able to remember that most of the time (PS: your stepmom sounds so sweet! πŸ™‚ )

    RE: Yeah, I guess you’re supposed to paint the tub walls and such, which they don’t. They just seem to want to make huge puddles on the edge of the tub. Ugh! And yes, my Step-mom was/is great!

    Hygiene Dad said:
    January 16, 2009 at 8:18 am

    This made me laugh. Luckily, we don’t have this problem. We actually can’t gets ours out of the tub. Cold water doesn’t even bother him; in fact I always keep having to add more hot water so he can stay in.

    2 hours was the longest. He was pruned for at least 45 minutes, but he had a blast and I got so much done in the next room.

    Granted if he had a little brother, I’d be in the same situation you are.

    RE: a 2-hour bath! Holy cow! But the sucky thing is, you can’t really leave him there and go do something. I mean, sometimes I’ll walk away, but each time I do, I remember hearing about some poor lady whose kid drowned in the tub while she supposedly slipped away to refill her Jack and Coke. I don’t wanna be that guy!

    pamajama said:
    January 18, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Love this entry. I, too, have the different voices in my head, one swearing she’ll be sweet & the other channeling my mother. I remember being at a boyfriend’s house in high school when his little brother dropped a couple of eggs on the kitchen floor. I tensed up, expecting the screaming fit my own mother would exhibit, and when she said, “Honey, it’s okay. We’ll just clean it up” I nearly burst into tears at the kindness of it all. Still could.

    My girlfriend Joanne’s daughter was once caught going underwater with her goggles & tickling her brother’s balls, making him laugh like a madman. I’m not sure you want to introduce that activity to your boys though. It, too, can be addictive. When my friend told them they couldn’t do it any more the boy screamed, “But Mommy, I love it!”

    RE: This made me laugh out loud (or “LOL” for “those people).

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