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