We’ve endured a bathtub strike for close to a month now. Any bathing of Declan has been done with washcloths, terrycloth puppets and a lot of tears. For some reason, the bathtub, once one of his most cherished places, started to terrify him a few weeks back. I took advice from the Internet, where most of my trusted sources of advice said: “This too shall pass. Honor his fears and sponge bathe him – don’t force it.”
And so I launched a public relations campaign for the bathtub. I bought a Little Einsteins’ Rocket that I made a tub-exclusive toy. For days, he would play with it from the side of the tub. I went back to our old colored water tricks: “Don’t you want a blue Earth/Neptune bath? A red Mars bath? A green Uranus bath?” All to no avail.
Meanwhile, for two weeks running, the video 95 Worlds and Counting has been his obsession. He wants to watch “Holes” — the name he gave it because he loves the animation of the descent into the holes on Neptune’s moon of Triton — as many times and as often as we will let him. “It would be very interesting to go down in the holes, if you dare,” he says, in tandem with the scientist being interviewed. Then there’s something or other about supersonic sounds and landing in a pool of liquid nitrogen.
So naturally, I recently decided that the bath water should become liquid nitrogen, which I make with blue bath tablets and bubbles. On Wednesday night, after the great recliner debacle, I pulled out virtually every toy that could be a bath toy. I drew volcanoes and a supermassive black hole (by request) on the wall with bath crayons. I yelled “let’s be scientists!” and called everything from filling cups of water to watching washcloths submerge “experiments.” I asked him if he dared to go down into the holes of Triton into the pool of liquid nitrogen. I managed to get his socks and overshirt off without any shrieks of horror. (We still must wear the rotating Nemo underneath at all times.) In all of my imaginings of motherhood, I definitely never could have pictured this.
His dad came in.
“We are scientists dad!” Declan shouted. Then Dan was able to get him into the tub (under the condition that the diaper and Nemo shirt stayed on). Then there was the experiment where they filled the diaper with bath water and took it off so we could all marvel at its bizarre absorbency. And then Nemo came off – and we had our boy back in the bath.
Last night, Declan requested a bath again. A yellow-red-brown-green Io bath (he settled for yellow, then orange-red). I started the routine again, and Dan managed to get him in the water again.
Of course, the problem we now have is that once he’s in, he doesn’t want to get out.
Life soundtrack: We Are Scientists, “The Method”: Launch