Usually James and I bath the boys together; he does Will and I do Ben. But tonight he had to take our guests home right at bath time. It’s been 3 days since their last bath, and Will’s hair was getting grimy and Ben’s pooed 5 times in the last 24 hours, so I really wanted to clean them both. I thought, Ok. I can do this. How hard can it be?
Start water. Wash out bathtub. Put plug in. Pour in soap. Leave Will getting out bathtoys and Ben kicking on the floor while I go get towels and pjs. Come back in. Sit down to go to the toilet myself. Lean over while sitting on the pot to take Will’s outer shirt off because it was soaking wet from “stirring” the bath. Finish on the toilet. Feel bathwater. Too cool. Add more hot water. Too full. Let some water out, add more hot, stir water around, reassure distressed Will he’ll get to stir again in a minute. Undress Will, put him in the bath (without the usual “doan WANT to” grizzling, thank God). Leave Will to play while I undress Ben down to his diaper, lay his towel out flat on the floor for afterwards, take his diaper off with one hand while holding on to him with the other, and lower him into the bath. Pray Will doesn’t splash Ben or act up while I quickly swish water all over Ben, rub all the areas that count, enjoy his fat little thighs kicking, smile at him, try not to notice my aching back as I hang over the side by my armpits, whisk Ben out and onto his towel, dry him off, dress him in his nighttime ensemble (diaper cream, diaper, woolen onesie, cotton onesie, sleeper, sleeping bag, hat), and leave him to kick on the floor again. Tell Will it’s time to wash his hair, brace myself for a fight, which actually doesn’t happen. Thank God he’s being cooperative! Wet down his hair with one hand while holding the washcloth gently over his face with the other (Daddy’s brilliant new technique for no water in the eyes), grab shampoo, open, squirt, rub into hair, rinse as thoroughly as possible (still no grizzles!), tell Will to “pull the plug, it’s time to get out.” Show him which end of the cord to pull—not the one attached to the bathtub. Quickly gather up bathtoys while water is draining, reassure Ben who is now crying on the floor. Pull Will quickly out of tub, let him drip on mat while I pick up Ben. Jiggle Ben in one arm while drying Will’s hair with the other, get Will to play peek-a-boo with Ben to distract him from how hot and sweaty he is in all his clothes. Keep drying Will’s hair while telling him to dry the other parts that count, balance Ben on my cross-legged knee while taping up Will’s diaper. Catch Ben as he’s about to roll off, button up Will’s pjs as fast as possible while Ben’s grizzling turns into yelling. Stand up with Ben, squeeze toothpaste on Will’s brush with one hand while jiggling Ben with the other, thank God the hard part is done—and in the door walks James, very anxious and apologetic for not being there to help, and I say proudly, “That’s ok dear, I managed!”