When my son was especially cranky late in the day, my go to response used to be to start bath time early and drag it out. Some soothing water, a few floating bath toys and we had a content baby… until recently. At 13 months, this little guy is very preoccupied with perfecting the art of “standing.” Pretty much all day long, he can be found practicing standing unassisted. If he’s cooking at his play grill, you’ll see him put his little hands out, one holding a plastic corn cob, and balance until he plops down on his bottom. He also likes to get up to standing these days without pulling up on anything- another impressive trick culminating in the diaper plop and very proud smile. All day long, I am impressed by this… waiting anxiously for the day he decides to take his balancing act on the road- and I start caring for even more boo boos.
Just like when he learned to roll over and to crawl and to point, this kid wants to practice his newest skills everywhere he is, ALL of the time… This has turned bath time into a nightmare. If you’ve ever lost one of the horrific diaper change wrestling matches that start around 10 months, this bath time thing has the same intensity. The only difference is, instead of being afraid of getting covered in poop- I’m afraid both that he’s going to fall in the tub, break a tooth on the faucet and that I’m going to throw out my back trying to wrangle him back into a safe position.
Here’s what bath time looks like these days: Water, bubbles and toys ready, add baby. Baby smiles and splashes, collecting the toys that are floating around until noticing (suddenly) that there is a faucet on the other side of the tub.
Intervention #1. Lean over tub wall. Slide baby back to other side of tub with back facing the faucet. Distract with songs and toys. Make orange fish spit water at him.
Baby slides onto his knees, eyeballing the black stain I (still) cannot remove on the tub wall that separates us. Grabs the side of the tub to get a closer look, while pulling to standing.
Intervention #2. Lean over tub wall, swipe under legs with forearm, like a ninja. Baby is surprised to be in a seated position once again… facing the boring wall. My singing gets louder. He laughs. I love that laugh!!! All toys find their way right in front of the baby.
I look down to assess the wetness of my clothes. I did pretty well. My shirt is DRY. A shovel landed in my lap though. It held more water than I expected. Whatever. We’re still both safe!
Baby is standing again, holding the bar that used to hold our shampoo in place… (Ha!! Back when adult cleanliness was a thing.) Reaching for the shower sprayer, which is dangling next to the faucet that is covered by the hideous foam whale that is supposed to protect his face in the event that I can’t. And, it’s a good thing- because I’m pretty sure I can’t.
Intervention #3. Lean over tub wall to seat wet slippery baby, but realize his grip on the bar is too strong. Ouch. My back. Re-position myself. Sit sideways on tub wall to get a better grip on those ridiculously strong fingers, all the while watching him sway and slide dangerously… now eyeballing that damn whale.
Once I’ve pried his fingers off of the bar and seated him again, facing the boring side, I know the clock is ticking. He’s pissed. There are things he wants and they are all behind him. I release the drain and grab the sprayer. He frantically starts crawling in place after the moving suds. (Thank you, God for this distraction!) Over the next 90 seconds or so, I wash the baby, spray him down with clean water and wrap him in a towel. When we make it into his bedroom I realize we are 20 minutes ahead of schedule. It is NOT bedtime yet.