Two if by Bath

bath, bathtime, kids, parents,

“We’re taking a bath,” said my youngest as he ran naked in front of the ballgame that I was watching on television. Nobody on either team seemed to notice, and security didn’t move—just another benefit to streaking at home.

“Okay,” I answered and paused the TV because I can. Then I followed a trail of clothes down the hall, took a left, and saw more boy butt than I had expected.

“What are you doing?” I asked my oldest son who was putting his hindsight toward me while bending into the rapidly rising tub.

“Looking for my invisible toy,” he said. “It’s small and I dropped it in the water.”

“Just get in the bath,” I answered, and he did. His little brother followed behind him.

I turned off the water and left the room. I know what you are thinking, and this isn’t a post about parental neglect or baths gone wrong—they are big boys (the photo is from years ago, but I don’t make a habit of bathtime photography) and have been bathing without constant supervision for a pretty long time, where without constant supervision means the door stays open and I find things to do within a six foot radius.

This is when they usually play swimmingly for a good thirty minutes.

“Daddy!” yelled one. “He’s being mean to me!”

And so I investigated, discussed, and carried on.

“Daddy!” yelled the other. “He won’t let me play with the toys!”

And so I investigated, discussed, and, as before, tried to carry on.


And then a sea of “he did this” and “he did that” flooded the hallway, pounding me like wave upon wave.

It broke upon a push against the faucet and a fist to the face.

“He tried to punch my eye out!” yelled the youngest as he stood in the tub, clutching said eye, and wearing more bubbles than Lady Gaga.

“He pushed me into the faucet!” cried the oldest as he fought back tears and showed me the mark upon his shoulder.

“This is unacceptable,” I told them.

I can count the number of times that they have physically hurt each other on one hand. That’s not to say they don’t argue, bicker, and frustrate each other on occasion, but they generally manage to keep it civil. Tears are usually spilled for my benefit.

“I think,” I said, “that this might be your last bath together.”

“Ever?” asked the oldest.

“But we’ll stink!” added the youngest, and they wandered off in well-worn towels to find something else to play. The invisible toy circled a few times and then was forgotten forever.

I never did turn the game back on.

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