“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I no wanna taka baf!” C is so angry her usually clear speech is lapsing into pure toddlerease. She is livid that I would even suggest taking a bath. Don’t I understand that she has a booboo on her toe and she just absolutely can’t take off her socks? Can’t I see that I’m suggesting something worse than death?
“NO BATH! I’m clean!” She shouts holding tight to the sides of her booster. “Give the baby a bath! Not ME!”
Her wails of protest escalate when I calmly inform her that she’s getting a bath whether she likes it or not and I leave the kitchen to the sound of her throwing herself on the floor and sobbing.
When I come back five minutes later fully expecting the tantrum to have blown over I find her still in a heap on the floor, sobbing. “No bath. No bath! NO BATH!” She gets progressively more irate and panicked as I get closer to her, my intentions clear. She fights me as I pick her up; kicks me repeatedly as she shouts louder and louder. What she doesn’t realize is that I’ve spent the week listening to her sister scream herself to sleep. I am immune to her cries. After all, if pitiful cries of “Mama, mama, mama.” coming from the precious baby that I am deliberately ignoring no longer move me to tears, the irrational wails of my tantruming toddler are definitely not going to work.
I haul her into the bathroom and start to strip her of her clothes. I only pause once; when I manage to make out some clear words in her angry muttering. “Mommy, I just wanna tell you someting!”
“OK. What? What do you want to tell me?”
“I NO WANNA TAKA BAF!” She sobs hysterically. Well yes darling, I’d gathered that, but it doesn’t change anything.
She doesn’t change her tune all through the bath or the toweling off. In fact, once wrapped in a big towel and lying on the changing table, she’s still crying that she doesn’t want to take a bath.
“Honey, it’s over. You took a bath. You can stop crying now. What do you want me to do now?” I’m still trying to reason with her, which anyone with a toddler knows is pretty much a lost cause. Her answer is almost lost in a gurgle of sobs, but luckily it’s somewhat comprehensive.
“I wanna put on my socks! I need my SOCKS! DON’T LOOK AT MY BOOBOO! PUT ON MY SOCKS!”
So I did. Because really, what else was there to do; the kid was hysterical. I tried to catch a sneak peek at the mysterious booboo that was causing such angst, slathered the offending toe in Neosporin, just in case, and put her socks on. But did that calm her down? No, why waste a perfectly good warm up? She kept up the drama while I finished dressing her, after I chucked her into her bed, and while I got her some milk. She took a little break while I read her a few books, and then started up again as soon as I was done. It took a story from daddy and mommy getting firm to put an end to the tantrum of the year.
And when she was finally quiet I left her room and vowed to email my father an almost 30 year belated apology. Back when I was a kid I threw the same tantrum. I still remember standing by the tub screaming “NO I don’t want to take a bath!” and then once I was in the bath refusing to get out. My dad is a peaceful man. I can remember the exact two times he raised a hand in anger against me. That was one of them, and that was quite a spanking. Now I know: karma’s a bitch, what goes around comes around, and if you’ll excuse me I have to go write that email.
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