I hate giving my kid a bath.
To start with, baths are nasty.
Women may find them relaxing, but the things that make a bath relaxing – i.e. candles; bubbles; not having a penis floating limply in front of you – are not typically things men enjoy. For us, there are no candles or bubbles; it’s just you in a shallow, lukewarm pool of filth staring at your slowly shrinking penis.
Which is why I take showers.
Unfortunately for my 2-year-old son, showering is not an option. Aside from the fact that most toddlers would slip and fall while wearing cleats on a football field, standing one barefoot on a slick surface as water bombards his face is not the ideal way to get these kids clean. So instead you fill the tub a little bit, set him down amidst a smorgasbord of distractions like toy boats and plastic sharks and styrofoamy things that stick to the wall, and watch as the only thing he actually wants to play with is an empty cup he can use to throw water all over the floor/all over you while you kneel beside him, knees on the painful tile, and attempt to trick him into looking up at the ceiling so the soap and water don’t get in his eyes.
I’ve heard rumors about babies being washed in the kitchen sink, which, sure. The keyword being “babies.” My kid is 2, and what was once the soft, innocent, porcelain skin of a newborn is now the rancid, reeking epidermis of a slowly developing biped with dried shit caked on his buttocks. So yeah, I’ll be keeping the beast away from my food-preparation area.
Regardless, I like to think I clean the kid pretty well. After two years of diaper changing I’m no longer bothered by the presence of his feces so while he can get himself pretty dirty, poop is about the filth-ceiling. Plus, since I’ve yet to encounter a BM in the bathtub, I remain totally nonplussed by that side of things. It’s the other side of things that plusses me.
Dude, it’s just a bath
Obviously this is my kid we’re talking about. Nothing inappropriate about a father giving his son a bath. There are no Tarzan outfits or cameos from Gordon Jump. But cleaning someone else’s privates is not an easy thing to get used to, especially a child’s. I’m uncomfortable even writing about this. It reminds me of that scene from Big Daddy, wherein Adam Sandler steals an idiot child and proceeds to destroy any hope for said child’s development. At one point Sandler is giving the kid a bath but makes sure he wears a bathing suit because “[He doesn’t] know the rules.” That’s how I feel.
Somehow I manage to soldier through my son’s bath time, because god forbid he becomes the neighborhood Pig Pen. He doesn’t mind taking a one, which means I’m usually able to get the job done with little fuss. I wash his hair, I clean between his folds and his fingers and toes, and behind his ears; it’s all very routine. Then I splash water in and around my son’s crotch without looking or touching, just to cover all the bases, before getting him out and wrapping him up in his monkey towel, which is when it all pays off.
A version of this first appeared on Dad and Buried. Bath time photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
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