Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

How Daddy Got His Fish Back

on May 26, 2014

Neither John or I are very into swimming.  This is why we were hesitantly delighted to find that Ellie adored the water.  She would never learn to swim from either of her parents, but lessons!  There could be lessons!  The girl with two left feet could be an athlete!  And in high school, the meets would be inside where I wouldn’t have to be cold or stand in the rain!  And then she could be the next Missy Franklin!  Olympics, here we come!

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All of our hopes and dreams came crashing down about three months ago when Ellie decided that she loathed taking baths.  Loathed isn’t even a strong enough word.  Even hearing the word “bath” sent her into a terrible sobbing, screaming fit.  For awhile, I just forced it.  She’ll get over it, right?  Suck it up, kid.  No tears in this house.

It was (very) unsuccessful.

So, just like any rational parent, I decided to consult my dear friend, Dr. Google.

And then I started reading a lot of psychologists who said that the worst thing you can do is to forge through and make the kid “suck it up.”  Oops.  Another parenting fail.  But when your child has hair down to their butt, bathing really isn’t an option.  So I tried to make it more “fun!”  I tried getting her into the big whirlpool tub with the jets (major, MAJOR mistake).  We tried putting on swim suits and getting in with her. We tried sitting in the tub and letting her bathe us.  We tried letting her take a bath in Tessa’s infant tub (now that was ridiculous).  There were toys, so many toys.  Old turtle rattles, new little boats picked out just for tub time, tub crayons, squirty little octopuses… those made the fits worse.  She feared the drain and that all of us were going down into it.

This has not been the most joyful phase of my parenting career.

I write to you today with a new perspective, having traveled back from the Hell of Bathphobia.  Here’s how:

1.  We invested in some Crayola Color Drops AKA: Magic Protector Pills (Some parents frown upon the idea of imaginary sprays and potions.  Desperation will change that perspective).  Somehow, choosing the color of the bath made it less scary.  We had just read Pinkalicious, so in a pink bath, we pretended to be the main character.  I was still in the tub with her, but there were no tears.

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2. To get me out of the tub, we started making lists.  I have no idea where this idea came from, but suddenly, a list made the whole situation bearable.  Just before the bath, we write out all the steps together:

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Then, while the bath is going on, we cross them out.

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We practice numbers, we are cheerful, I am not in the tub.  It is glorious.

Don’t ask me why this works for her.  I think it might be because she knows that she will survive The Drain because there is a next step.  All I know is that if you find yourself in the middle of a torturous tub tantrum, a list might be your key to freedom.  At the very least, it’s a tool to try.

The Fish is back, just in time for summer.  And in plenty of time to train for the 2028 Olympics.  I can already smell the gold…

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