Wherein Bathing the Dog is Easier Than Bathing My Children

Bath time is one of the most exciting and vexing times in our household. Both boys love the idea of bath time, but only one of them (Beanie) actually digs everything about the bath, including water in his eyes. It’s hard enough when both my husband and I are doing bath time together; it can be even more challenging if it’s just one of us, like it was last night while my husband was at Drill.

I have mentioned before (I think) that my children have sensory issues. Pie has the worst of them, but has grown out of a lot of it (thank goodness!), but Beanie is exploring new ways to be like his brother, which means that “change” and “infanticide” are often synonymous, and greeted with the same fits of terror one would expect with the latter.

Pie, who thinks bath time is just the greatest idea ever, is usually quickly disenamored of it once the first droplets from his brother’s splashing get within a six-inch radius of his eyes. Then we have the “Uuuhhh! UUUUUHHHHH!” whining until a towel can be found to wipe the offending substance from his face. Then, of course, there’s the fight to wash his hair. This has gotten harder over time, because his hair has gotten so thick that it requires several rinses to get the shampoo out, and he doesn’t even desire the first rinse that gets his hair wet before the shampoo. Fortunately, it’s not a screaming war anymore, but we have to be pretty heavy-handed just to get him to sit still and not open his eyes while we sluice his head down with the special hair-rinsing bucket.

Beanie’s hair is still wispy and thin, but he thinks it’s funny when we dump water on his head.

I’ve been trying to introduce some new, fun things during bath time to make it more interesting for everyone involved, and give me and my husband a moment’s peace before we have to start getting them out and chasing them around with PJs. Bubble bath has been widely accepted, especially since Pie got over his fear of bubbles in the water when he was Beanie’s age. Beanie just loves bubbles in any form, so he’s thrilled when they’re in the water. Colored shaving cream was met with excitement by Pie, and gradual acceptance by Beanie. Uncolored shaving cream was not as fun, though Pie finally got into pushing it around a little with his fingers. I think Beanie ignored it.

But yesterday . . . Yesterday I decided to get them some fun bath time crayons! Yay! Beanie LOOOOVES crayons! He is my scribbler, and I finally had to take his favorite red crayon away, because he was coloring everything (though he did not scribble on the walls, for which I am grateful). I might just put him in blue footie PJs for Halloween and give him a purple crayon, because he reminds me of Harold. 🙂

I also got them some fizzy tabs that turn the water different colors. Yay! Fun bath water! Because I know their dislike of Things That Are Different, I made sure they (especially Pie) saw me put the tab in the water, watched it fizz around and change the color of the water, and heard me say over and over how fun it was and how it was just color and nothing else, and there would be CRAYONS (Yay! Crayons!)!!

Well, we got all ready for bath, two little naked boys dancing around in the bathroom, SO excited! And then . . . then I put Beanie in the water. I mean ACID, to hear Beanie tell it. He would not sit all the way down, and he cried and cried like it was child abuse. He liked the idea of the crayon, and scribbled a little on the side, but kept crying and trying to remind me that the WATER IS PINK, MAMA. You’re DOING it WROOOONG!!!

Pie greeted it with nervous giggling trepidation, and resisted a little when I tried to lift him into the tub. He, too, wouldn’t sit all the way down, and when I handed him a crayon, he poked a little at the side of the tub, then began to get flustered that a) the crayon was wet, b) the tub was getting marked up, c) the white towel, which he’d used to wipe off the wet crayon, now had blue on it, d) the white washcloth I gave him for an eraser had color on it and needed to be wiped off, apparently with the white towel he’d already marked on, and e) there was crayon ON HIS SKIN (because he colored on himself — the crayons were encased in plastic). He didn’t scream or cry, but he was obviously tense and frustrated. AND water was getting in his eyes.

Finally, sick of the crying (it was also very warm in the house, humid in the bathroom, and I felt like a sweaty mess), I drained the tub and filled it with clear water. Beanie immediately ceased crying (and coloring), and was content with holding his red crayon under the running water. Whatever, kid. Go to town.

Pie, who had already gotten out of the tub once to go potty (after I’d asked him at least three times before he got in whether he needed to go), got back in and, again, wouldn’t sit down all the way, but wanted to know where the colored water went. I told him I drained it. He tried the crayon thing again, complained that Nathan was coloring on the tub (*FACEPALM*), and then began to have issues with color on his own skin and decided he was done with the bath and wanted to get out. I hadn’t washed his hair yet, so I had to go through the agonizing hair washing process detailed above, with more whining than usual, and found myself exclaiming, “SIT! STAY!” to him while I went and fetched a towel. Poor Ladybug, laying down quietly on the bathroom floor, was probably thinking I’d finally gone off the deep end.

In addition to all that, there was an excessive amount of dog hair in the tub, probably from Pie getting in and out with wet feet. Pie gets freaked out by my hairs getting on him while he’s in the bath, but Beanie freaks out over every little strand — person, cat, or dog — that sticks to his fingers, so it was a never-ending process of trying to get the invisible hair off the whining baby while also getting the kid out and dried and dressed before the baby could slip and drown (as all children are going to do if you leave them alone in the bath for one second, according to parenting experts).

Fortunately, I did not need to fight Pie over PJs, but I did have to corral him to get him to put them on with less twitching and flinging and roaring like a dinosaur. Getting Beanie out wasn’t so bad, because, though he was content with his red bath crayon and clear water, he was tired and lonely.

It wasn’t even too much of a fight to get them into bed after that. Beanie screamed, as he is wont to do when he is put down for bed, but stopped not too long after I shut the door.

I had hoped I might get them into bed before it got dark, but no dice. At least it wasn’t very cold outside yet. I was going to wash the car and then the dog, but I decided the car could wait, and I would just wash the dog while I still had energy.

I would have let a groomer do it, except that I’ve been having a lot of allergy trouble lately, and I’m not sure whether the shampoo or something the groomer used when we brought Ladybug in last might have set off this cough I’ve been struggling with for two weeks (and allergy symptoms for four). Or it’s the grass Ladybug’s been walking through and bringing into the house. Also, it just seemed like it was time. A clean dog is a happy owner. 😉

Compared to the kids, washing Ladybug was WAY less frustrating! More labor-intensive, but much more gratifying. She sat still on the porch while I brushed her out, did her ear wash, brushed her teeth, and shoved cotton balls in her ears so more water wouldn’t get down there while I bathed her. She did run away and lose the cotton balls when I turned on the water, but I needed a few minutes to wash the spiders off the hose and sprayer, so I let her cringe for a bit. She came right to me when I called, though, and let me put new cotton balls in her ears and prep the hose, because she’s just awesome like that.

She stood still while I sprayed her with cold water from the hose, and she didn’t move as I lathered her up and sprayed the soap off. She stood still while I toweled her dry, except when I let her shake. She ran away when the neighbor’s son drove up their driveway, but came back when I called her so I could finish toweling her off.

The only setback was this little ornamental bed around the porch with black bark mulch in it, which, naturally, she ran right through on the way back to the porch from the driveway, where I washed her, so I had to spend a few more minutes toweling the dirt off her feet before I could let her inside.

Before anyone freaks out over the fact that I washed my dog with cold water in the dark, it wasn’t cold outside, and it was 80+ degrees in the house (I forgot to look at the thermostat last night), so she was quite comfortable while she dried inside. 🙂

But, MAN! What a difference! It was hot enough during the day that it might have been more effective to hose the children down on the driveway, and they probably would have enjoyed it more. I just might try that next time, instead . . .