Monday, January 10, 2011

Showering with Young Children: A Survival Guide

Episode 1

In December we had an ice day off from school. Unfortunately, it was neither snowy nor particularly icy in our district - just one of those days where school was called off as a precaution, I guess - so I ended up at home with two young children on the last morning I'd expected to have to SHOP BY MYSELF before Christmas.

Hastily reorganizing my plans, I decided to start my morning with a shower. I gave the girls a little extra breakfast and turned on PBS Kids, reminding them to come find me if they needed me.

After a while, Ada joined me in the bathroom. This was not unusual; she frequently comes in for a visit whenever I'm out of sight for a few minutes. "Hiya, Ada, how're you doing?"

"Um, I'm fine, Mommy, but Ellie went outside to play with those neighbor boys."

Indeed she did. Wearing only a nightgown. No coat, no shoes, certainly no mittens or hat. I thought over my options briefly as my hair conditioned and foam dripped slowly down one partially shaven leg. I recalled that we live on a quiet, safe street, that Ellie is 7 years old and allowed outside on her own to play with the neighbor boys (though generally not unclothed), and that this was a lesson she could probably learn on her own for a few more minutes.

Sure enough, by the time I'd finished my shower, she was back inside. We went over the ground rules again, touching heavily on the parental notification aspects of the leaving the house routine.

"Ellie, before you go outside to play, what do you need to do?"

"Put on shoes!"


Episode 2

Shortly after Christmas I found myself needing to shower again. This time I went over all the ground rules - save one - carefully with both girls. Then I waited until Ellie was immersed in some quiet play in her room and I knew I had a few moments to myself. I leapt into the shower.

After a while, the bathroom door opened. "Hiya, Ada, how're you doing?"

"Um, I'm fine, Mommy, but I think I can't work the TV remote right now."

"Oh, that's OK, I think you've had enough TV, anyway. Why don't you play on your own for a few minutes; I'll be out in a bit."

When I turned off the water, I listened carefully. I could hear Ellie still playing in her room with the door closed. I whipped my hair up into its towel turban and headed down the hall toward the family room to check on Ada.

She was sitting on the couch, right where I'd left her, but now accompanied by an adult-sized person.

It was our elderly neighbor, Mrs. Gustafson.

"One moment please." I returned to my room to apply glasses and clothing. While I was at it I moisturized and smeared product into my hair, oddly unhurried about returning to my company.

"I though Ada told you I was here, but I didn't want to disturb you so I decided to wait." Well, if I had to appear fully naked in front of a neighbor, I'm glad it was her.

The one rule I didn't stress with the girls that morning was not to let anyone into the house. Nana and Grandpa were in town visiting and might have returned to the house at any time. I didn't want the girls to leave them out in the cold if that were the case. I don't think Ada would have let in a stranger, but our neighbor babysits sometimes so is both known and safe.

Didn't seem to phase her a bit.

Episode 3

The day before the girls returned to school, I tried again to shower while parenting. This time I carefully went over ALL the rules and made my expectations very clear.

The talk must have made an impression, because both girls joined me in the bathroom. Ada popped in and out for friendly little chats, but Ellie pulled open the shower curtain and tried to climb right on in with me. Once I'd dissuaded her from that course of action, she sat on the edge of the tub, pants getting soaked, and asked a stream of questions along the lines of "What are you doing, Mommy?" and "Why are you doing that, Mommy?"

Friday morning both girls went to school and I took a fabulous, delightful, no one else in the house no one bothering me no interruptions relaxing hot shower. And it was good.


RobMonroe said...

Huzzah for (finally) a hot and peaceful shower!

Sarahlynn said...

Snow day today. I think I'll just wear old sweats and stay un-showered!

Anonymous said...

Your kids are great. "Put on shoes." Love it :-)

Sarahlynn said...

One of them cut her hair today. I prefer the funny things they SAY to the not-so-funny things they DO sometimes!

Jessica said...

Just read this post to Dylan - - his favorite part? "Oddly unhurried...." hee hee.....

Sarahlynn said...

And that bit - plus the sarcasm that comes with it - is the one bit that doesn't change in my reaction to all three Showering With Young Children incidents (plus the less eventful showers that have occurred since). A pattern!