I just finished giving Cady Gray a bath. Lately we've been letting her play in the tub by herself for a few minutes after the bathing is done -- quite a change from her early years when, to be frank, bathtime was all business. Now she begs to stay in the water and talk to herself while pouring water on scrubbies and boats. When I come get her, inevitably, she'll tell me that I left her there too long and she's become a prune.
I don't remember elaborate bath playtimes when I was a child. But I do know that I kept on taking baths late into my teenage years, which made hair-washing a challenge. The switchover to showers probably didn't occur fully until I went away to college.
That change from baths to showers seems like one of the undertheorized moments of transition from childhood to adulthood. It wasn't something anyone ever told me I should do. There's just that uneasiness that everyone else has made the switch, but no sense of when -- or why -- you should make the effort to change your own habits.
You also have to learn to take a shower, don't you? I mean, washing yourself standing up with water cascading over you is a very different procedure. It takes a little finesse -- a skill we probably have all forgotten that we have -- to tip your head back at the right angle to rinse your hair, to keep your face out of the direct spray except when you want it to be, to bend over to reach your lower extremities. And yet, does anyone ever teach you?
I have a fairly vivid memory of being in the shower with my mother when I was a preschooler. It was in our old house on Glendon Drive, where the shower was tiled in a glossy brick color, and the array of knobs was quite mysterious. As I remember it, you had to turn one handle to get water to come on, and two others to adjust the hot and cold mix. But since we moved out of that house when I was in junior high, I really never used that shower by myself.
Now a bath means some sort of luxurious bubbles-and-champagne indulgence, maybe on vacation. Except for the kids, of course. And I feel like I need a guidebook to figure out how to get them to start taking showers someday.