A beauty of having little boys is that they can turn even the most mundane of activities into an adventure. This can also be viewed as a challenge, or a danger, or a price of having little boys, depending on your mood and current level of sleeplessness. Take washing hands, for example. You’d think it’s a simple task: rinse, lather, scrub, rinse, dry.
Each of my two oldest boys has developed his own little routine. Caleb first turns on the cold water — just the cold — full blast. Then he rolls his sleeves up to his shoulders, more or less, because the little fussbudget doesn’t like the wetness on his clothes. Apparently they are made of the same material as the Wicked Witch of the West; I know this because he does essentially the same woeful “I’m melting” routine when he spills juice on himself.
Since he’s usually in front of a mirror when washing his hands, Caleb views it as a good opportunity to try out some new experimental monster faces, or maybe just have a discussion with himself. You have to remind him to finish, or he’ll just keep washing and talking. I have no comment about which side of the family he gets this from.
Eli needs coaching, or he’ll revert to either the wiggly-finger wash if he’s in a hurry, or the full-on surgeon’s scrub-to-the-elbow routine if he’s of a mind to be diligent. No matter which he chooses, however, it’s always the case that the surface area he actually hits while rinsing will be roughly 50 percent of that covered while scrubbing. It makes me itchy just thinking about it.
Then there’s the shake and dry. Both boys have this flippy-flappy thing they do with their hands which is designed to distribute water over a maximum amount of counter and mirror space. Then they get down from the sink, taking care to put their newly-rinsed hands squarely in the little puddle of liquid soap they managed to drip on the edge. (I don’t worry about this so much, it keeps them regular.) Finally, they step over to the towel and wave their hands around it while thinking dry thoughts. I’ve never seen anything like it — these boys can worry a towel half to death so that it’s wound up and wrinkled and hanging by the thinnest of margins, yet leave the bathroom with hands dripping wet. They’re like those kung-fu masters who can hit you twenty times without leaving a bruise.
I’ve actually gone into a bathroom with them in good spirits and a relatively high amount of energy, and left grumpy and needing a nap. But I’d like to see everything the way they see it, as an opportunity to be joyful. Some days I think they’re going to kill me, but I can’t think of a better way to go.