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The drudgery of co-parenting—sometimes, I just want to take a glass of wine (or three), guzzle it down, and dream about a world where everyone gets along.
How old were your kids when you stopped helping them with their baths? My DD1 has been doing independent showers since somewhere along the lines of second grade (now in fourth).
My DD2 is in kindergarten, so she needs help in the bath, otherwise she’d come out with soap all over the place, a big grin, and proceed to run streaking through the house. Nothing wrong with streaking. Especially at five. But with a puppy who loves to drink bath water, who would delight in chasing and licking said naked child all over (soap be damned) and then said child would need another bath, because our puppy also likes to drink toilet bowl water (ewwww) and I can’t always remember to close the lid. Which is why said child needs some assistance.
Cut to a week ago, when I get a strange email from the ex about how DD2 complains that A (my husband) scrubs DD2’s ears too hard in the bath, and then whittles on about how Ex does not approve that A gives DD2 a bath at ALL and to stop this immediately. Ex continues with how A is not an ‘approved caregiver’ (whatever that means) and repeats that A needs to not give DD2 a bath.
Sigh. I want to get all enraged and mad, but I’m just so tired of the baloney. I guess I should be thankful I’m not listening to it on some ranting phone call—that it’s in writing so I can sit back and think about it and not respond for a while.
So context: A rarely gives DD2 a bath, and usually it’s because a babysitter has called in sick on the days I have to stay late and pick up DD1 from her dance class or whatever.
Because of Exie’s volatile wording, I decide to forward to all experts involved with my case (play therapist, co-parenting counselor, etc.). Everyone says it’s best not to respond. Play therapist says that to give Exie’s statement some context, the girls and dad were just in for a session, and DD2 went on and on about how happy she was about the wedding, and the play therapist changed the subject when she saw Exie tense up. That perhaps that primed him for whatever was said later that night regarding bath time, likely DD2 blurted something out, as 5 year olds are known to do, and then it was taken in the wrong way. (Play therapist also thought that DD2 was talking about the wedding, because DD2 may be wishing that her dad could be happy, too, which kind of melted my heart about DD2’s heart).
Co-parenting counselor and attorney #2 (replacement from trial attorney who has since retired) said that while A is doing nothing wrong, to stop the baths, since they happen so rarely. Attorney #2 says that we don’t want to go down a false accusation suit, it’s a horrible situation.
I do not get fired up about much, but to have Exie dictate what happens in my house when I’ve worked so hard to get him OUT of the house—was hard to swallow. A is a parent, just like I am a parent, but I agreed to think about this.
Then I spoke with attorney #1—because I was just at a loss. Who said, Jane, it is perfectly acceptable for a small child to get help in the bath from a parent. I’d say along the lines of up until 7.5 years of age. DD2 won’t be young forever, so just do what you need to do.
Then the babysitter called in sick. So then A was all worried about giving DD2 a bath. To which I wrote to attorney #1 and just told her that the babysitter was sick, A was going to give her a bath, that we would be sure DD2 washed her body and that A would help with washing hair only. And that was that. Or so I thought…
Because DD1 told me that “dad always helps me take a bath.” And I tried to conceal my surprise and responded—gosh, really? You’ve been taking showers by yourself for over a year at our house! And she said, ‘I know, but dad says he has to help me take a bath.” So I just said, “well honey, you are 9 years old, which is definitely old enough to take a bath by yourself, and don’t be afraid to say so!”
Ugh. So at this point—I’m planning on not pushing the bath issue (unless DD1 gets uncomfortable—she has developed little breast buds over the last year), unless Exie does.
And all this time and energy—on a bath. Who knew? Grrrrrr. Where’s that glass of wine, again?