There was a bit of a milestone in our house the other day. I mean, every day has a milestone of some sort – someone puts on their own socks, or brushes their own teeth, or works out how to open the cake container. But this milestone was different. Are you ready?
For the first time in almost four years, I had a shower by myself. It was equal parts unusual and amazing. Normally Marshy takes Orion into the shower, and then I take Piper with me. But not this time.
Easter holidays snuck up on me this year – I had just gotten used to Orion being at kinder for two and half days a week, and suddenly I had him back full time in all his exuberant glory. It happened one Friday afternoon, when I picked him up from kinder, and one of the teachers said: “Have a lovely holiday!” I smiled and said: “Thanks, but we’re not holidaying?” in my best, oops-wrong-person kind of voice. The teacher laughed and said: “No, I meant school holidays.” Being the total noob that I am, I answered with: “Oh? When is that?” To which she responded by patting me on the shoulder and saying: “Now. See you in two weeks!” Whilst I stared at her in surprise, she politely ushered us out the door and that was the end of it.
Right. At first I was daunted, because I always intended to be one of those mums who had all the holiday activities planned three years in advance, colour coded in boxes with sweet little pink labels on the front. Only… I am not that person. And I will never be that person, except in my imagination. So whilst I loved spending time with the kids without having to rush off anywhere, I did struggle a bit with what to do. One morning, whilst the four of us were snuggling in bed, Orion said: “Daddy, I’d like to shower by myself today.” Marshy leaned up on one elbow and gave me that raised eyebrow that is secret parent language for ‘what is the correct answer here?’ Because, whilst we want to foster our children’s independence, we also sometimes have to be places on time, and it’s faster if there’s help on hand. Feeling brave, I said: “It’s okay, Daddy, Orion’s a big boy and we don’t have to go anywhere today. He can shower on his own.”
So he did, and a pre-washed Piper spent the entire time crying and banging on the outside of the glass at the injustice of it all. The next morning went like this: “Mummy, Daddy, can I shower by myself again today? I am a big boy.” To which Marshy gleefully said: “Of course you can, buddy!” Then Orion turned to me and followed up with: “And can Piper come in the shower with me too?” With Piper’s diva rage from the day before fresh in my mind, I looked at Orion and said: “I suppose so… but that means you will have to help her wash with soap, and brush her teeth, and wash her face. Can you do that?” I expected him to say no, because really, who wants to wash their younger sister’s armpits? But his face lit up and he said “Oh yes, mummy! I can do that!” And so it was decided.
So I showered by myself.
It was totally and completely uneventful, and that in itself is the noteworthy thing. I had all the hot water, I did not have to squat down to wash anyone, nobody poked me in the lady garden while I was washing my hair or poured buckets of cold water on my feet. Amazing.
Later, I got to supervise as Orion and Piper showered together. It was perhaps one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen. Orion takes his big brother duties very seriously, and my only regret is that I didn’t have my camera on hand as he demonstrated how to brush teeth, with Piper copying his every move. He then dished out the liquid soap and showed her how to wash herself, but after a few moments he realised she wasn’t really up to the task. Without my prompting, he lathered his hands up and washed her himself, very carefully explaining where her armpits were and that you have to make sure you wash your bottom properly. Then there was a moment’s silence, followed by: “Mummy? I can’t wash Piper’s doodle, because I can’t find it.” Trying not to laugh, I said: “She doesn’t have a doodle, buddy. She’s a girl.” His confused expression was priceless, and I watched with interest while he assessed the situation. After a moment he shrugged and said: “Piper, I’m going to show you how to wash where your doodle should be.” And he did, which was also hilarious, because within moments Piper was demonstrating her best michael-esque crotch grab.
Ever since that day, Piper insists on washing herself and I am only allowed to assist after she has completed the chest-tummy-spadge-legs-feet-bum ritual that Orion demonstrated to her. It’s a very quick, interpretive dance style set of movements that has me in stitches every time – and which she later demonstrated in the communal showers at swimming, causing all the onlookers to also fall apart laughing.
There is nothing quite like a solo shower in a time when you don’t have them. I guess there’s nothing quite like a nude 20 month old doing her best Michael Jackson in the shower, either.
How about you? Do you shower alone, or with company? Do your tiny dictators behave, or make life a challenge?