I’ve noticed a couple things about the end of the day: 1) we’re all tired. 2) If the Toddler has been with us for the day, not only is she tired along with the rest of us, but she’s extra, extra dirty.
I liken it to a banana that you dip in chocolate and roll around in chopped nuts, only that gives the illusion that the Toddler looks better than she generally does. In the course of the day, she manages to smear her entire body surface with unidentifiable liquid and viscous matter, which we sincerely hope is limited to something innocuous like melted chocolate, sweat, spit, or randomly encountered water from preferably the sink over the toilet. And then, by simply inhabiting the atmosphere, she attracts dust, dirt, mud, lint, pet hair and assorted microscopic material that sticks, like walnuts on a banana, to her skin.
(The Norwegian Artist wondered if we could patent her as a giant sticky fly strip, but she screams so passionately when any bug crawls across her — why they don’t adhere, I don’t know — that this wouldn’t be kind.)
“One of us washes the dishes, another dries them, a third tidies the house and a fourth gets the Toddler,” I announce. You can see everyone mentally calculating the work load of each chore and assigning it a number.
“I’ll take the Toddler,” the Norwegian says. “I’ll give her a bath and prepare her for bed,” and immediately after this he takes her hand and the two of them head outside.
“How odd,” I think. “The bathroom is the other way, and the last I looked, it was inside.”
“I let her play in the kiddie pool,” the Norwegian explains.
“That’s not a proper bath,” I argue, aghast. “There are no tubby toys, no shampoo, no warm water, no soap, and it took less than ten minutes.”
Well, how do you argue with that? Not only is she clean, she’s happy, as is the Norwegian, smugly basking in his extreme cleverness and the winning way he managed to shave 20 minutes off a job that properly takes a half hour. How male, I think, the aura of testosterone in the air almost palpable.
And then the Norwegian announces it’s time for bed and it all falls apart. In seconds, the Toddler transforms from smiling princess to wailing troll, cascading tears flowing over her face and all over her body, instantly drying into a sticky surface that attracts, magically, all the dirt from the room. In remarkably little time, she looks pretty much what she looked like before her “bath.”
But I have finished washing the last dish, and as the Norwegian prompts and nudges his little charge up the stairs, countering her vociferous announcements that she “HATES BEDTIME!” with promises of an extra story, or two, but definitely not three, I pick up my knitting, settle in the chair . . . and smile.