Recently, I experienced the worst bath ever. Think it's weird to grade your baths? Read on- there can be such a thing as a good bath or a bad bath. I think, possibly, it was the very unfortunate coming together of 2 facts:
1. Adults, especially women, like baths and tend to expect a "luxury treat".
2. Children love baths. Not as a treat. As their inalienable human right.
I'm not certain what it is about baths and adults. Is it pure marketing? All those beautiful people slipping into a bath in a candle-lit bathroom the size of most people's houses. Is it purely aspirational that we want to be like them, disappearing into a creamy, scented bath, surrounded by nothing but peace, a glass of champagne (and perhaps the entrance of George Clooney at some point later)?
For most people with kids, a bath for an adult is most likely to first involve removing all toys from the bath- but not all, as you lower yourself into the bath, it is obligatory for some surprisingly hard rubber beak to jam itself into your bottom, thus rather ruining the moment somewhat. Stepping backwards, you may trip over the potty or slip on a discarded Dora facecloth. And rather than candlelight, most of us have rather harsher lighting which is perhaps has a less flattering effect when looking in the mirror. It also has a tendency to highlight that tiling you "really must have seen to".
Nonetheless, most adult women like baths. I have known one person who hated baths because she "didn't see the point of wallowing in her own filth" which I thought was absolutely hilarious, sort of agreed with but has not put me off. I have no idea whether it is because being in water replicates being in the womb, perhaps the lapping of the ocean or because I like the idea of it. Whatever the reason, the beauty industry makes a killing on bath stuff. Even though after a hot bath I resemble a woozy prune.
Kids just LOVE water, it's amazing. Bath time in our house is one of the highlights of the day. They love it. Fill a big bowl of water in the garden with water, they'll drop whatever they're doing and rush over to make "soup" or stomp in it. Frankly, put some water in a saucer and they're stripping off and trying to bathe in it. Again, I'm not sure what it is- the womb again!? I suppose water has so many possibilities.
And so it is, that one evening, not so long ago, the two worlds met.
The girls had been particularly, um, challenging that day and I longed for a bath. We actually have a lovely, huge bath which has been the exclusive preserve of my children since we moved in. Damn it, I thought, I DESERVE a bath.
I thought I had timed it well. They were eating dinner, supervised by the poor father: "Please, eat...no, stop, eat, please...no, stop it..if you don't eat...". In theory, this meant I could escape, unnoticed without the usual Gestapo inquisition from my 4 year old as to my whereabouts. Seriously, the child just needs a uniform- otherwise, attitude and tone, it's all there.
I snuck off, turned the taps on and poured a liberal amount of bubble bath (without children's TV characters on it) into the bath. Let the bliss begin. As the water poured noisily, I didn't hear the steps until it was too late.
"Mum, is it bath time?" My four year old was walking through the door, shedding clothes across the floor as she went. Desperately, I looked for her father, hoping he'd rescue me and remove the child from what was intended to be an exclusively adult experience.
"Are you bathing with us, mum?" My heart sank.
" How did you know I was running a bath?"
"I heard the water, mum."
Let me clarify briefly, that this is the child whom I suspected had a hearing problem- you know, failure to respond to questions and failure to carry out basic requests unless barked through a loudspeaker. Suspected a hearing problem, that is, until I realised that if I whispered the word chocolate from across a valley, she'd coming running up:" Where's the chocolate, mum?". I think they call it selective hearing.
"No," I said, firmly. "I am having a bath on my own.You're having one later." It was hard watching her face fall and seeing the disappointment linger, but I had to be cruel (to her) to be kind(to myself).
I had finally persuaded her to leave the room when my red-faced 2 year old came barrelling through the door, screaming : "I WANT A BATH..........WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH". (The ..... represented the silent scream. Come on parents, you know the one: they take a DEEP breath as if to scream and then silence. As a rule, the longer the silence, the louder the scream).
Now, you can reason with a 4 year old. Not so easy with a teething 2 year old who had refused her nap. My husband and I tried VERY hard to explain she would have a bath later and mummy wanted to have a bath on her own. Couldn't she just play with her sister for a while? At this point she was pretty much fuchsia and grasping the edge of the bath like she was possessed: "BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATH". Well, never one to give into a tantrum, we thought we'd let her just go until she calmed down.
So this is how it went:
I got into the bath and my husband removed the child to another room. Intent on ruining the experience, she'd stagger in under the weight of snot, tears and rage within seconds of being removed. It was like Groundhog day, no sooner was she removed, then she was back: "BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATH".
I have no idea why I sat there soaking for as long as I did, the screaming echoing off the tiled walls while I pretended to ignore her, reading the same 3 words of my book over again. Like I needed to prove a point: I WILL have a bath.
Conceding defeat, ears bleeding, I got out, let beetroot snot baby and her sister in and went to read my book in bed.
So there you have it. The worst. least relaxing, most disappointing bath ever.
I'll stick to showers, for now.