Sitting on the child-size chair listening to the child psychologist, my mind started wandering to the possibility of a long, relaxing bath. The speaker was doing a great job explaining the emotional tasks at each developmental stage of childhood, but my feet hurt. Her outlines for promoting independence, dealing with sibling rivalry, and parenting with consistency were clear. The school parents were soaking up the information, but we were running out of time for the Q&A section of the evening.
"How can I get my 4 1/2 year-old into the bathtub in the evening? She wants to act like a kitty cat and play around instead."
What a flashback question! Not to my own parenting of young sons, though. I seem to have blocked out those memories. I can barely remember the bathrooms in our various homes, no pun intended.
Instead I remember being a child at bathtime. It probably helps that the bathroom in the house where I grew up hasn't changed much since I was three. When Mom announced our bathtime we would beg her for a "deep bath." She would remind us that we had to get ready fast if we wanted to have that treat.
A deep bath was not the norm. Mom didn't start running the water in the tub until we were in the bathroom ready. If we had dilly-dallied, there wasn't time for her to run the water more than the few inches needed for actual cleaning of children in assembly-line fashion. We could only play in the water until it got chilly.
If we had been "obnoxious" or "belligerent" during the day, there was no chance of a deep bath. We knew not to even ask.
A deep bath was a reward for getting ready quickly after a day when we didn't frazzle our mother. She kept the warm water running, filling the tub so full we could float boats, blow bubbles, and make shampoo-suds hairdos and beards. Mom would even hold the mirror for us to admire our sculpted hairdos. The mirror steamed up while our relaxed mother leafed through a magazine or filed her nails. We played until our fingers turned to wrinkly raisins and the water cooled. Washed, dried, and into our PJs, we made towel turbans and paraded to the living room to model them for our dad.
Just remembering a "deep bath" is a relaxing soak for my tired brain. "What is a natural consequence?" That's a great parenting question. Tonight I'd say a short chilly shallow bath is the natural consequence of dilly-dallying at bathtime.
And now, I need a hot soak and some relaxing time making shampoo sculpture antlers and antennae. Thank heaven my kids are grown up!
© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder