As a father who has seen my daughter grow, learn to speak, walk, run, play and enjoy life, I am subject to bow to almost every whim she has. Sometimes when I am giving her a bath at night I hear her say: “Dada too! Dada too! Dada too!”
Usually, I just say “No honey, maybe later.” To which she smiles and says: “Ok! Maybe laadr” But there are some nights when she has that sparkle in her eye and is asking so nicely and excitedly that I cannot help but oblige her and jump into the bathtub. I mean who doesn’t love a bathtub full of bubbles and nice hot water, filled with just about as many toys as she can cram in there while leaving just enough room to sit at one end? It’s heaven, paradise and playtime all in one package and there is usually about a half hour of fun to be had before it gets cold!
It is once again that moment I cherish when she actually wants me to have fun with her. As you may have read in one of my earlier posts, there will come a day, I know, when she will be a teenager or young girl and not want me to be anywhere near her. “Dad, get out!” I do not want to miss moments with her now that I will regret later if I had not jumped into the bath, so sometimes when she asks, I jump right in!
It’s magic, we play with the baby whale, sink the boats, throw the ball around and watch as it ricochets off the tiles and around the small bathroom. We make Santa beards with the bubbles and giggle when the kitty comes in to see what’s up and gets dripped on and runs out of the room. We have fun. I love it and they will be memories we can cherish forever…or maybe want to forget.
It is usually funny when she farts in the bathtub, she is still learning how to use the potty and doesn’t have full control over everything that happens, so once in a while she lets one slip and we laugh about it. Recently though, we were enjoying our Santa beards and floating ducky on a boat when she turned to me and started screaming and crying. Naturally I was concerned and wondered if she had hit her head, drank some water or bubbles, tasted the soap or hurt herself in some way. She grabbed onto me and was crying. I went to give her a hug and looked behind her and noticed she pooped!
Ahhhhhh, Ummmmmm, I went into full fight or flight mode and hoisted her up and out of the tub. “Sit here sweetheart” as I placed her on her potty in the bathroom. Now I am standing in the tub and the poop is swirling around my ankles, there are chunks getting inside the buckets, in the back of the dump truck, all over everything. I immediately pull the plug of the tub and start grabbing the toys that have not been affected and collecting everything in the clean buckets. Water and ‘waste’ start draining out and the tub begins to empty. Fortunately the big pieces go down the drain and all that is left in the tub are the dirty toys and me.
My daughter starts to cry again. I look over and she is standing up on the bathmat, peeing all over the floor and crying. Can this get any worse? I grab her up again and place her back into the tub, close the shower curtain and fire on the water of the showerhead. After a full soaping up of the far end of the tub I clean both of us up and with one hand push the dirty bathmat to the side and get us both out. “Whew!” We are both clean; I dry us off and get her changed into a diaper and pajamas while I throw on a clean pair of shorts. I sit her down in front of the TV and go back to the scene of the crime.
It took me about a half hour to clean every toy that was in the tub when ‘it’ happened, the entire tub, shower curtain and anything else that was contaminated with bleach and water. Afterwards I collapse into the couch next to her and say, “Did you poop in the bathtub?” With that sparkle in her eyes, and smile on her face she looks up and says, “Yea.” And we both start giggling and saying how silly it was and that we are supposed to go poopy in the potty not the bathtub!
I do not have any real insight into how this is a lasting memory of bonding, a moment we will cherish, a teaching moment or any of that stuff. It is just an event in my life. It was horrible, funny, real and messy. I am certain that I am not the only person to have had this happen to them so I thought I would write about it as an example of how unpredictable fatherhood can be. I am faced with situations each day raising my daughter that baffle me. I often have no idea what to say or do and know that as a man raising a girl these issues will become more complicated as she gets older. What I do know from experience is I have always found my way of handling them. Right or wrong my instincts and reactions often have merit and second-guessing what I chose to do and dwelling on a past mistake has not served me well. If they poop in the tub, clean them and it up. Down the line it may not be that easy.
About the author
Jack (Jake) Howard-Potter resides in New York City with his wife, Erica, and daughter, Skylar. He works with steel to create large-scale figurative sculptures. His work has been on display throughout the world in outdoor sculpture parks, galleries and public art exhibitions. To view his work or learn more, visit www.steelstatue.com.