The Wife of Bath: the sequel.

Four years ago I wrote a blog called The Wife of Bath in which I explained why I get in the bath with my small kids. BUB.3 was still a twinkle, the first two were 1 and 3. Today they are 3, 5 and 7. Looking through my list of 8 reasons that I used to swill about in the muck of my children, it’s clear why this no longer happens.
1) I don’t always require a complete change of clothes at bath time. Now only my socks get wet.
2) I’m not so dirty anymore. They, on the other hand, just get filthier with each year that passes. Mostly exploded yogurt and marker pen.
3) Bath time without me just sounds a bit sad. It’s still my favourite time with them. Weird, I know.
4) They still love it. But they’re bigger. And sometimes they try to drown each other. Or they’re pretending to smoke.
5) I’ve invested in a Lifeproof iPhone cover. From someone who has dropped previous phones in pineapple juice, prune juice, down several toilets, through a 90 degree washing machine cycle and into a bowl of chicken soup, I’m the ultimate test for this thing and this thing lives on where others have not been so lucky.
6) They would hate me to get into the bath with them now. I would be insulted like the time BUB.1 told me I looked like a gorilla who had lost all of its hair apart from its armpits.
7) I never care about what I’m wearing anymore. I’ve accepted my uniform of shrunken long-sleeved stretchy black top and bulging jeans. I’m OK with it.
8) I no longer have to worry about them weeing in my bath because I tend to now sneak in before them. Invariably the moment my shoulders hit the hot water one of them wants an immediate poo. I don’t know which is worse. The kid who immediately wants me to leave the bathroom (and therefore extract myself from a lovely hot bath I have been in for 5 seconds) or the kid who wants me to stay. THIS is just one of the infinite philosophical “caught between a rock and a hard place” questions that dominate parenthood. You can never really win with kids. There’s always a trade off.
But one thing never changes from the time I wrote this blog post. The last line. That is and always will be so very, very true.

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Bath time: I'll just sit here and smoke

At bath time and in the morning, when they are getting dressed, there is sometimes shouting. I usually have to ask them to do something a minimum of four times, with increasing volume, before it might happen.

This evening I snapped, as after countless attempts to extract them from the bath they were still absorbed in their own world of flooding my ground floor and comparing wounds (microscopic cuts). Once out, BUB.1 and BUB.2 then proceeded to shake themselves like two hairy dogs, sending water flying everywhere. I shouted. It was a longer than normal shout, because halfway through my reprimand I warmed to my subject and continued longer than necessary. It felt good. I needed it.

They both know that when I shout a) I mean it and b) I still love them dearly because 90% of the time I start laughing halfway through or they do. But when I’d finished, there was silence. Punctuated only, after a few seconds, by BUB.2 sitting himself naked on the landing, and saying: “Well I’m just going to sit here and smoke” as he lit an imaginary cigarette and started puffing nonchalantly on it.

He’s just turned five. We don’t smoke. No one he knows smokes. I don’t know where he has seen anyone smoking. It must be something he got from school, perhaps?

But it sums up parenthood to me.

1) One of them will always stop you dead in your tracks and make you laugh (when you should probably cry) and 2) Once they unfurl themselves from fluffy toddlerhood and become a fully fledged child, you no longer control them and you no longer control their sense of humour.

And in the middle of a raucous, stressful bath time, that is the BEST feeling in the world. These, not the triumphs at Sports Day or the glowing school report, are the parenting moments that speak the loudest to me.

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The best and the worst time

IMG_3708.jpgI’ve just had possibly the finest few hours of my parenting life.

The BUBs played “vets and jungles” while I pottered in my slippers. The baby slept straight after breakfast which left the boys to have a snowman bath bomb, full of delightful squealing and mutual drenching. When she woke up the baby got in too, splashing and standing and being happily jostled by her brothers. Soap bubbles on noses, wisps of hair, joyous chuckling, it was like it is in the adverts. They dried each other, played “towel mummies” and had naked “bum races” along the landing.

We watched films, had lunch all together at the table after which the baby decided to have another little snooze. We should go and get feet measured for new shoes but it’s all just so lovely here. It won’t be lovely there. I want to stay here.

This is after weeks of gut-wrenching lurgies, howling tantrums and hideous behaviour, nothing like the adverts, or like an advert for condoms. After weeks of trying to make Christmas happy but fighting against illness, of longing for a moment’s peace, there is this.

It’s exactly the same phenomena as when your split ends are causing you psychological problems but on plonking yourself down in the hairdresser’s
chair you suddenly look the best you have ever looked.

School tomorrow. The end of the best and the worst times is upon us. Until the next time.

The wife of bath

Most nights I get in the bath with the BUBs. Not every night, but most. Bath time without me getting in as well sounds like hard work. I need a lie down in amongst it.

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Most nights I get in the bath with the BUBs. Not every night, but most. I’m sort of aware that this might not be normal practice, but it’s just a routine we’ve got into and something that I consider myself fortunate enough to be able to do. And these are my reasons:

1) I am going to get wet anyway, whether I’m in it or not.

2) By 6pm I am usually covered in drools and dribbles of bolognese sauce, saliva, snot and yogurt. I need a wash.

3) Bath time without me getting in as well sounds like hard work. I need a lie down in amongst it.

4) It is the one time of day that I am completely focused on them, and their pink, warm, cute babyness and not what they are eating, or not eating, or chewing, or being knocked down by or destroying or crying about. I relish the time just soaking up how little and beautiful they are while they are still so little and beautiful.

5) I can’t take my phone into the bath so I’m not tempted to check emails, Facebook or research to within an inch of its life the next material object I am looking to buy.

6) The BUBs love it.

7) It’s the one time of the day that I’m not worried about what the hell I am wearing or what happened to my real clothes.

8)  Despite Willy Wonka’s reminder that one, if not both, of them will undoubtedly wee in that bath, and the fact it means I am in my pyjamas, buffed, slouched and shiny most evenings when Willy Wonka gets home from work,  it makes me happy. After a long and tiring day, just enjoying the fruits of your labour in all their glory is just what you need.

That and wine. If I could bathe in that alone, directly after, I sometimes, if not always, would.