Monday, June 14, 2010
The first time my wife and I gave our daughter a bath, we had to keep checking the faucet to make sure water was coming out and not hot lava. To say she screamed would be a gross understatement. Between bursts of hysteria, she’d look up, desperate, and plead for us to stop. She’d trusted us…she’d even grown to love us…and now here we were, waterboarding her in the sink like a very small enemy combatant.
For a while, we considered simply giving up. Emotionally speaking, it was just too much seeing her thrash and scream like that every other night. I envisioned her getting older and living with a phobia of bathing. She’d wear her hair in dreadlocks and sell hemp clothing along the highway and complain about the government. Eventually she’d move to Berkeley, California and break her grandparents’ hearts. If we were lucky, she’d maybe let us hose her down in the back yard every few months. The neighbors would just have to get used to it.
The thing about babies, though, is that their feelings—as intense and uncontrollable as they are—change very suddenly. This has certainly been the case regarding bathing. At some point, maybe two months in, it seemed to dawn on her that being gently scrubbed with a loofha sponge four times a week for 15 minutes isn’t such a bad gig after all. She particularly likes the sandlewood-scented, baby-soothing designer shampoo. In fact, she enjoys the entire process so much that I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t becoming a little resentful of her lack of appreciation.
“You know, when I was your age, my mom drank a lot,” I often tell her. “Sometimes she’d leave for days at a time and I’d be forced to bathe myself using only Windex and whatever was left in the dog’s water dish.”
This is only about 25% true, but I think it’s important for infants to keep things in perspective. Sadly though, it doesn’t seem to be working.
This evening, we were giving her a bath in her inflatable baby tub. I was massaging shampoo into her scalp while my wife scrubbed both of her feet individually with a warm wash cloth. All the while, she basically ignored us, focusing instead on a sudsy plastic seahorse. And then, just as I was about to rinse, she set her toy down and gave me a look of complete entitlement. “That’s right, bitches,” she seemed to say. “This is exactly how this should go. Now, which one of you two smiling morons is going to clean my under bits and tell me how adorable I am?”