#153 In which our hero draws a line in the sand, er, tub.
There was a showdown in the bathtub last night.
Generally speaking, the girls get a bath every other night. It would probably only be once a week if I had my way, but The Scientist has a clearer head. And the few times that we’ve gone several days without bathing these kids has resulted in an alarming body odor that really should teach me better.
But it’s a chore, y’know? First Lily doesn’t want to get into the tub (because she has to stop watching TV or playing with the computer or reading books or whatever) then she doesn’t want to get out. And that’s when the showdown started last night.
Macey was already out and dry, and I think Lily really enjoys having the tub to herself, like in the old days before Macey (BM -- which, if you’ve read some of her previous tub exploits, you know is an appropriate acronym).
So all the washing was done, the hair had been rinsed, and she had had plenty of playing time (by my estimate). So I started making noises that bathtime was almost over. Lily didn’t take to this well at all.
I’m still playing! I’m still playing! No! No! Bathtime is NOT over!
I would flip the handle to drain the water, and she would flip it back. We argued back and forth about this several times. Ultimately, the unexpected answer was that her DUCK needed to flip the lever to drain the tub… this somehow made it acceptable.
When all the water was gone, Lily was still actively playing with all her tub toys and seemed no closer to getting out. And so the showdown began.
ME: Lily, it’s time to clean up.
LILY: I’m still playing.
ME: I know you want to play, honey, but it’s time to clean up.
LILY: No! I’m still playing!
ME: Lily, bathtime is over, sweetheart.
LILY: NO! Bathtime is NOT over!
ME: Lily, you have to clean up your toys now.
LILY: NO! I don’t want to clean up.
ME: Honey, you have to clean up your toys.
LILY: NO! I don’t want to clean up!
ME: Lily, clean up your toys, now.
LILY: I’m still PLAYING!
ME: LILY! You have to clean up your toys… now!
And while the situation is escalating, my mind is racing. What’s the right thing to do here? The optimal outcome is if she cleans up her toys herself; the worst outcome is if I drag her out of the tub kicking and screaming. Do I threaten her? Does this situation warrant a spanking? Or just a time out? What if I say I’ll take away her tub toys and she won’t get to play with them next time?
While trying to figure out the best way to get to a good resolution, I stuck with the company line: Lily, you have to clean up your toys.
I was about to execute the time out option (the idea of a naked, dripping wet 3-year-old sitting in a chair in the corner made me laugh) when she gave in. I’m not sure what happened… if she realized that I wasn’t going to let her sleep in the tub (an option she suggested and I quickly rejected) or if she sensed that real punishment was eminent. But regardless, she said “o-kay” in a slightly teary voice and picked up her toys.
Someone tell me why that even though I got to what I considered the best outcome -- and I did it without having to resort to threats -- that I still felt like shit? I felt like I had somehow broken my wonder little girl’s spirit, and it made me sad.
Of course, five minutes later we were laughing again and I’m sure the entire thing had left my daughter’s mind… but still.
Is this what parenting is really like? Even when you win you lose?