Don’t drink the bath water

Have you ever looked at your kids feet before they get in the bathtub? Like, really looked at them? In the heat of the summer when they’re running around in sandals, there is nothing filthier than children’s feet. Well, nothing other than the murky bath water that washed them off.

 Despite the logical revulsion a person should have to the dirt-sand-butt water that kids soak in while bathing, their favorite tub time entertainment has always been drinking the bath water. The grossest thing about toddlers is that they don’t know what’s gross. And for the record, drinking the dirty water you’ve washed your filth off in, is super gross.

The struggle is real. Four years and counting, I’ve heard myself on repeat; Don’t drink the bath water! Don’t drink the bath water! Don’t drink the bath water! It’s not just one kid, either. There must be some sort of peer pressure situation happening because it’s like a toddler drinking club up in that tub.

My main concern is obviously the unsanitary nature of it all, but there is also the secondary concern of filling up before dinner. They’d drink gallons of it, if I let them. That delicious lasagna you made? Your toddler will not hesitate to tell you how gross that is, but give them a tea cup in the bath tub and they drink their weight in cloudy bath water. So it’s probably partly my fault that I gave them a tea set to play with in the tub. 

I don’t want to say that I think drinking bath water is acceptable under certain circumstances, because it’s most definitely not. But maybe if it was a solo bath, it would be less gag-worthy. At least then you’d just be recycling your own filth. When you’re tub-thumping with two of your siblings, there is no justifying the consumption of that kind of dirt-sand-butt water cocktail.  There’s no getting through to them. No matter how many times I repeat myself, no matter how emphatic I am about not supplementing their diet with soiled h2o, there’s a very real and very strong pull that brings that plastic tea cup full of brown water to their grubby little lips. It’s a pull so strong that I’m not sure I can crush it, which means on a scale from 1 to SuperMom, I’m a couple steps below the dirt-sand-butt water. 

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Before I had kids, wait…let’s pause there. Are you all imaging me frolicking through a field of daisies without a care in the world, skinny, with perfect hair and make up? Me too. I’m also picturing myself sleeping in until 10am and eating a meal while sitting down, two more things that have been mysteriously absent in my life since the birth of my precious blessings. 
::finger snap:: Are we all back to the noisy and sleep deprived reality? Good. Before I had kids, some friends commented that their kids had ruined all their nice furniture. I distinctly remember thinking, so naive, childless, and carefree, “why did you LET them ruin it?!” To my credit, I never said this out loud. But I definitely thought it. I had no idea that the answer to that question was “Because your kids will ruin all your things, regardless of precautionary measures taken on your part.”

I was convinced that the behavior of children was completely based on the parenting; If you don’t let your kids run wild, set boundaries, and discipline, then they won’t destroy all your earthly belongings. You can have kids, but also nice leather furniture, beautiful shoes and expensive jewelry! I know, I’m an idiot.

Apart from obviously having zero knowledge of actually living with clumsy little people, my assumption was based on more than a few false premises. The first falsehood was that the destruction of your property by children is the direct result of bad behavior that should be reigned in (by perfect parents capable of mind control, apparently). 

You brought these children into the world, you cheered when they learned to crawl, said their first word, and took their first step because these are remarkable feats for an itty bitty human. Then you get angry, when in an understandable display of poor coordination, they trip over their own feet and slam into your very full cup of coffee precariously placed on the arm of the sofa. Sure, it’s inconvenient that they had to trip right into the coffee, when tripping literally anywhere else would have been markedly less messy. But this is also a human that learned to walk less than a year ago and had never existed in the world less than two years ago. I walk into doorways all the time, trip over my own feet and drop things on the regular with 30 years of experience. The real miracle here is that with the combination of my poorly coordinated DNA and their sheer lack of experience, that none of my kids have cracked skulls and still possess all their limbs. 

So your sofa is saturated with an aromatic combination of coffee and milk, which is sure to transition to putrid without some type of rigorous deep cleaning. It’s just what kids do; they’re not bad or naughty, they just aren’t good at things like walking straight, wiping their own butts, or avoiding life’s hazards.

The second falsehood that my childless self was too blind to see, is that you can watch your kids at all times and prevent mishaps that threaten your precious valuables. Maybe this is true when you have one child in your charge, but even then, you still have to use the bathroom, take a shower, prepare meals and secretly eat the candy you’ve hidden in the closet. Kids are sneaky little critters, especially once they’re mobile, and sometimes in the midst of enjoying a rare moment of quiet, you forget to panic because quiet is terrifying. 

As desperate as you find yourself for quiet, it’s always a red flag. Quiet means your toddler has emptied your bag of Epsom salts and is making snow angels on the bathroom floor. Quiet means the baby found your lipstick and is creating some abstract art on your beautiful leather boots. Quiet means there are probably stickers with remarkable adhesive qualities now permanently affixed to your television. All it takes is letting your guard down for a second, and suddenly you no longer possess anything of value.

  

So if you find anything in my house that’s nice, unscathed, or in mint condition, keep it secret; keep it safe, or my kids will add it to their to-do list. 

3 Reasons I let my kids watch Frozen

There is a lot of Frozen in my life right now. This might be a cry for adult conversation or television targeted at people over the age of 5. Whatever it is, I’ve found myself appreciating the themes and messages in Frozen and have compiled a list for your reading pleasure.

  

Spoiler alert: The song “Let It Go” is no where on this list. As I previously posited, you might love it after the first few listens, but after you find yourself singing it in the shower for the 419th time, it becomes much less amusing. Get out of my (very limited) brain space! As much as I love my daughter’s sweet singing, after hearing her screech it out (with the wrong words) countless times every day, it starts to wear on you. 

1) Frozen portrays love more realistically than other Disney movies.

A common theme in Disney movies is “love at first sight” and whirlwind romances where people fall madly in love very quickly. I’m inclined to think love is portrayed this way, at least in part, for convenience in a 90 minute movie. But I also know that love seems so much more romantic when it is reckless, unrestrained and unabashed. We all know (Don’t we?) that’s not how it works. In today’s “Bachelor” culture, I’m starting to think people may actually think that’s what love looks like. I certainly don’t want to give my children such unrealistic expectations, or have them make lifelong relationship decisions based on an elated feeling after a handsome stranger returns a lost shoe, or gives you a rape-y sleep kiss. (I didn’t say you could kiss me, dude. I’m in a magically induced coma and we’ve never met. Get up off it.)

I don’t some of their first impressions of romantic love to set unrealistic expectations. I don’t want them to miss out on true meaningful human connections and imperfect but genuine love because they’re waiting for a grand gesture or great romance.

I want my kids to know that in real life, love comes from truly getting to know someone, finding out what is most irritating about them, and then deciding that other people are more irritating. That’s real love. In Frozen, Anna meets Hans, immediately “falls in love” and becomes engaged. In what seems to be an interesting commentary on other Disney movies, all of Frozen’s  main characters completely disagree with this decision. Krisftoff brings it up numerous times by questioning her judgment, since she’s the kind of person willing to get engaged to someone she just met. Elsa refuses to “bless” their union for the same reason. Anna spends most of the movie trying to justify her rash decision with “true love,” despite all the other characters constant jabs that mock the notion of “true love” between strangers. The message, even before any of the predictable plot twists, is that “love at first sight” is irrational. 

2) Frozen reminds us that all people are not good people.

Big surprise, Hans ends up being a bit of a sociopath, which most of us should have picked up on the minute he proposed to a woman he just met. Ever met a guy genuinely willing to commit to marriage after a first date? If you have, he was probably later featured on 60 minutes after it was discovered that he had 4 wives in 4 different states while simultaneously running a Ponzi scheme that kills kittens. It doesn’t add up, y’all.

I like that the antagonist in Frozen is a real person. He’s not a witch, or a beast, or a sorcerer; He is a real person with ulterior motives and aspirations of power. He uses Anna, lies to her and manipulates her. While I hope this never happens to my kids, it certainly could, which is why I don’t mind them seeing it happen to a movie character.

I’m all about protecting my children’s innocence, to a certain extent. I’m not interested in exposing my children to harsh realities before their little brains are ready to process them, but I also don’t mind the idea of them knowing that all people aren’t good people, and some people lie. Sure Hans is mean, and says hurtful things to Anna, but that’s real life. People won’t always tell you the truth, and it’s not a bad idea to guard your heart. One of the best ways to do this, is to avoid getting engaged the same day you meet someone. Also, rigorous background checks.

I’m sure I’m coming across as a cynic here, and I’m ok with that. If you think I’m too cynical, you probably also think Beauty and the Beast is romantic, a movie where a woman is held captive, developes Stockholm Syndrome and lives happily ever after with her captor. We can agree to disagree.

3) Frozen shows us that true love does exist.

I’m not dead inside. I do believe in love and happy endings. The final reason I like Frozen is because it shows us that true love does exist. It’s not a prince coming to save you, it’s not romance saving your life and completing you. Elsa accidentally freezes Anna’s heart and only an act of true love can save her. This is when she must quickly return to Hans for a kiss, because true love’s kiss heals all. Unfortunately, she finds out Hans is just a youngest child with delusions of grandure and no real affections or plans for marriage beyond spousal homicide. It’s a rough breakup. 

A selfless act from Anna and the true love that exists between sisters is what finally saves her. True love does exist, between family and friends, and yes, romantic partners with whom we’ve invested the time and energy to get to know. True love requires self-sacrifice, it is not selfish or self involved. True love is not about how it makes you feel, but about how you want the best for the other person. Olaf, the lovable dope of a snowman, ends up offering the most insight, saying that true love is putting someone else’s needs before your own. That’s a message I can get on board with, even if the messenger has twig arms and a carrot for a nose.