Our window of opportunity or, the sweet spot we target, is between 8 and 8:30 p.m. By this point in the day the boy has usually accumulated enough gunk, grime, germs and slime that bathing is more an act of mercy than it is parental labor.
Bubbles, while not a necessity, are always welcomed. They make him smile and reduce the likelihood that he'll, jump out of the tub naked and throw a fit in the middle of the hallway.
Outside of the bubbles, certain toys must be ready.
The multi-colored foam letters must be in the appropriate bath basket and while the attendance of some letters is optional, E, P, D and J, must be accounted for and on hand.
|Bubbles? Check? Letters? Check. Exit strategy? Check.|
There are special wash cloths, delicate on his baby-soft skin and special shampoo for his baby-soft scalp.
But it is a fragile balance, easily disturbed by even the smallest of factors including, as I recently learned, the door bell.
Earlier this week, I sat beside the tub as the boy was splashing about. Mrs. Blackwell was down the hall packing for a trip out of town the next day.
Then the door bell rang.
Obviously, I was busy. Mrs. Blackwell, now four months pregnant and in the midst of one of her infamous last-minute packing jobs was also pre-occupied.
That said, I did what any self-respecting fellow would do under the circumstances, I stayed quiet and hid from view of the front door — like it was a group of storm troopers knocking.
If we're not expecting guests I don't like answering the door and, besides, the boy was aligning his foam letters on the side of the tub "XCFJ EP DJ" ("What might he spell next?"), things were just getting interesting.
So, I ignored the bell, pretended it hadn't been rung. I wasn't sure if Mrs. Blackwell heard the first ring, normally she wouldn't condone my cowardly avoidance, so I guessed she hadn't.
Then the door rang again — she clearly heard that one. From about 25 feet away I gave her a look that said, "I'm not answering it because I just don't wanna," while she shot back with a look that said, "Are you kidding me?"
Sufficiently shamed and/or temporarily emasculated, whichever you prefer, I made my way toward the front door.
I'll pause here to address all the judgers out there who might think I just left a baby in the bath tub. First, the water is about three inches deep. Second, he's three years old and three feet tall. Third, his mother was just a few feet away. Fourth, the boy is rather noisy in the tub; if, for any reason, the noise stops, we get to the batrhoom to find out why.
So, I was bereft of excuses to not answer the door. What happened next was a series of firsts.
For the first time ever, I met Sarah, the girl who rang the doorbell.
As I shook her hand, for the first time ever, the boy jumped out of the tub and made a break for it.
For the first time I can remember, the boy began excitedly running back and forth in the hallway behind me — naked as the moment he was born — shouting "Gah! Gah! Gah! Gah!" as he sprinted.
For what I'm assuming was the first time in her door-to-door sales career, Sarah saw a three year-old doing all of this and a father standing in front of her who probably looked as lost as he felt.
After all of this, what was it exactly that Sarah was selling? Why, early childhood education tools of course.