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As Simon continues to develop his own sense of self, certain times of the day are getting more challenging. Towards the top of this list lies bath time, when we are regularly reminded that our agenda (get the child clean) and Simon’s agenda (have fun and make a mess) are not in perfect—or even imperfect—harmony.

The process is much like how I imagine Senate and House bill reconciliation committees must operate. Matt and I, as co-chairs of the Parental Committee on Hygiene, present our position that Simon stand so we can clean his tushie and legs, should keep toys and water inside the tub during a bath, and should allow us to pour water over his head to wash his hair. Simon, the Chair of the Toddler Health and Happiness Committee, protests that he is willing to get in the tub quite happily so long as he does not have to stand unless he wants to and is allowed to throw cups of water out of the tub at his will. As for hair washing, the Honorable Senator from Toddlerdom attests that he is perfectly happy to have his hair washed as soon as the Honorable Representatives from Parenthood figure out a way to do so that involves neither shampoo nor water.

As the negotiations rage, much coaxing on the part of the Parents and a fair bit of shrieking on the part of the Toddler can be heard outside the chamber. For a while it looked like a compromise had been found in the form of having Simon lie back in the tub for hair washing, but one day, without notice, that option was suddenly tossed from committee and the previous stalemate returned. We suspect he’s using it as a bargaining chip for splashing, because truth be told he used to look like he enjoyed it; he’d lie back with only his face exposed and take on a dreamy and lost expression as he took in the sensation of being mostly submerged. But the base must be appeased, so lying back is no longer on the negotiating table.

After some months of arguing and crying about standing, hair washing, and water-tossing (dare I call it Cup-of-Watergate?) we have arrived at a tenuous compromise just in time for the August recess. Standing up was solved by offering limited self-rule in the form of “tickle-bubbles”. I had been trying to coax Simon to wash himself for a while, and finally got him interested when I lathered up my hands, tickled his tummy and sides, and gave the game that ridiculous moniker. It stuck, and lately Simon has happily stood and washed himself and let me help reach the tricky bits. Success!

Hair washing and Cup-of-Watergate have both been solved with a small plastic watering can. One night Simon was devastated to learn that he had to stop watering the plants and go take his bath, and I mollified him with a promise of taking the can into the tub. I had him “water” my feet and legs, and then I “watered” him-head and all. He loved it! The gentle shower from the watering can allows us to wash his hair without tears and, as an added bonus, Simon would rather water my feet, his own hands, or the tub, than throw a tumbler out of the tub.

The moral to this story is, I think, that many parenting struggles, if not so many legislatives stand-stills, can be resolved with humor and creativity. And the underlying terror of this for me is that there are instances where I have neither. The Parent and Toddler committees on Household Welfare are still deadlocked on Toddler Bill 1404 (Walking Through Parking Lots Not Holding Hands Act) and Parent bill 6549 (Not Kicking During Diaper Changes Act) with no resolution in sight. We’re hoping all parties will return from the August recess with a better spirit of compromise!

One Response to “Household Legislative Stalemates”

  1. Amanda says:

    This reminds me of the Onion’s study: Most children not in favor of children’s health care: http://www.theonion.com/content/video/study_most_children_strongly

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