Shower time rarely runs smoothly in this house. Between my pre-teens demanding privacy and my youngest three not understanding the concept, there’s usually shouts, screams and the worst sort of name-calling. By which I mean mine. It’s often easier to supervise the youngest first to give the oldest a chance to relax in there.
Usually, but not necessarily today.
I’ve been tired lately – Tracey and I are planning something a little special I’m hoping to let everyone know about in a month or two, and it’s kept us up to all hours – so maybe I shouldn’t be taking it out on my pre-teen daughter. But then maybe she’s been testing me a bit as well. All kids do as their hormones prepare to hit adolescence running. Maybe it’s a little of both. We’re not really arguing as such, just pressing each others buttons.
I turned the taps with my hand under the water and waited until the temperature moved up to just right.
“In you go,” I encouraged Miss4. She went to step straight in. “Wait up. You put your hand in first to test the water,” I told her, because of course it’s important to teach them to do this. No one wants a trip to the hospital just before bedtime when there’s a chance you might actually get to pick something to watch on the telly.
She stuck her hand out under the flow of water-
-and jumped back with a yelp!
OMG I’ve burned her! was my first and only thought.
That’s a lie.
There wasn’t even a mental pause between OMG!! I’ve burned her! and, Tracey’s gonna farkin kill me!
I grabbed Miss4’s hand to check out the damage.
“What’s wrong?” I demanded, turning it over. “Was it too cold?” Because you may as well live in hope.
It wasn’t too cold. But it wasn’t too hot either.
“It was too wet!” Miss4 whined.
“For your shower?”
I tossed her in the deep end of the shower without so much as a floaty and didn’t wait for her to surface. She did one lap of the cubicle and announced herself done before I’d even managed to leave the bathroom. Fine by me. She’s four, so how much can she be sweating? The only criteria I have is for when Tracey asks if they’ve been in the shower I can say yes..
I called out for the next kid, Miss6, even as I grabbed a towel.
“There you go,” I said, removing all six droplets in one swipe. “All dry. Now where are your pajamas?”
“Thank you, Daddy,” she started to say, then froze. “Wait!” she said urgently. “One more thing.”
Then she ducked back into the shower cubicle with her head tilted back to catch a mouthful of the water.
“That’s better,” she said, pushing past me, soaked, and trotting through the lounge room. “Now I can get dressed.”
“Dad!” Miss12 called out from where she was sprawled across the lounge with my iPhone making musical.ly vids, and in no way proposing any to move to help. “She’s wet!” There was a pause. “And naked!”
“Oh, don’t worry. You stay there. I’ll get her, shall I? Thank you,” I said, marching through after my water baby with a mostly dry towel.
“You’re welcome,” said Miss12 in a monotone without making any eye contact. Pre-teens are fun, aren’t they? It’s actually kind of painful watching them go through it, and she is rather wonderful – she bakes me cakes.
As Miss6 was still mucking about trying to remember where she tossed her pyjamas this morning, I stuck my head back into the lounge room.
“Time for your shower please,” I told Miss12, then went back to dressing Miss4.
I’ve all the sympathy in the world for those fighting their way through puberty but, like Miss6 and her pyjamas, I can’t always remember where I leave the damn stuff.
Naturally, Miss12 was miffed at having to put my phone down, but I wasn’t done.
“Oh, look,” I said to Miss6 just as I heard the shower door slam shut. I’d long finished dressing Miss4 and was just hanging about pretending to tidy the floor waiting to spring my trap. “Your pyjamas were under your pillow where they’re supposed to be. It’s always the last place you look, isn’t it? Off you go now. Shower time.”
“Daa-aaaad!” came a scream from the bathroom a minute later…
…but by then I was sprawled out across the lounge with my iPhone and not moving for anyone.
You’re welcome, Miss12, sweetie. You’re very welcome.
“Raising a family on little more than laughs”
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