As a young mother, I lived by the following precept. “A family that showers together, stays together.” Lots of parents shower with their young children. It seemed like a completely normal and natural thing to do. Plus, showering with my toddling son was a much more efficient use of my time than bathing him separately. Did I mention that this seemed like a completely normal and natural thing to do? Well, it did, that is until Christian, my son who is currently approaching his twentieth birthday, was about three years old. When Christian was three it became apparent that it was time to adopt a new precept by which to live and specifically one that did not involve my being naked. It was time, I discovered, to move on to something benign like, “a family that flosses together, stays together.”
Ever since he was a tiny baby, Christian has been a keen observer. He tracked objects and made eye contact earlier and better than any of his infant contemporaries (really, I’m not kidding). As he got a bit older and began to talk, his keen observation skills were accompanied by a knack for stating the obvious. Take for instance his status report, on the size of my behind, which he felt compelled to give during my pregnancy with his brother.
“Mom, I’m thorry to have to tell you thith, but your butt ith getting pretty big.” Case in point. Keen observation skills accompanied by a knack for stating the obvious.
Then there was the first grade pet show. In spite of Christian’s begging and pleading, we had not yet adopted a puppy. In fact, we did not have a family pet of any kind, so the night before the pet show, we headed out to PetSmart to buy a Beta Fighting Fish to insure Christian would have an animal to share along with his classmates. The next day, Christian’s first grade teacher, Mrs. Wood, sensed he was upset, so she stopped to admire his fish and tried to engage him.
“Christian, your fish is beautiful. What can you tell me about this beautiful fish of yours?” She asked.
“It’s not a dog,” was all he mumbled. Case in point. Keen observation skills accompanied by a knack for stating the obvious.
It was a beautiful summer day in 1994. Christian and I were enjoying an afternoon at the neighborhood pool. I glanced at my watch, more out of habit than anything else, and was startled to find it was past five o’clock. Now don’t get me wrong. My husband is not some chest beating Neanderthal who drags me around by my hair and demands his grub with a “me hungry” the very instant he walks through the door after a hard day’s work. He isn’t that way now, nor has he ever been that way, but back in the summer of 1994 Pat was just starting a medical career. He was a new associate in a private practice and he worked long hours. I made it a point to have Christian bathed and dinner on the table by the time Pat came home from work. I wanted him to enjoy what little time we had together in the evenings. Realizing we’d lost track of time while swimming, I hoisted Christian onto my hip, gathered our belongings and rushed home. Once we peeled off our wet bathing suits, we hopped in the shower together and began the ritual of rinsing off the chlorine and cleansing away any pool-borne pathogens from our skin. Handing Christian the soap and a wash cloth, I gave him the following instructions.
“Okay rub the soap on the wash cloth and get it nice and sudsy. Good job. Now, wash your body and remember to scrub the stinky parts twice.”
Referring to the “stinky parts” always made him laugh, but not this time. This time he seemed preoccupied. Actually not preoccupied, it was more like he was mesmerized and that’s when it hit me. Christian had outgrown showering with me. It was obvious because there he stood, quite curiously and most unabashedly, STARING…AT…MY…PRIVATE…PARTS. I quickly recovered and nonchalantly turned Christian to face away from me and began to shampoo his hair from behind.
“Christian, you are getting to be such a big boy. I think it’s time for you to shower by yourself.”
“Why, mommy?” He asked, craning his neck in an attempt to face me again.
“Well. You’re old enough to shower by yourself now.”
“But I don’t want to. I like to shower with you, mommy.”
“The truth is, Christian, you’re staring at my private parts and it makes me uncomfortable so I think it’s time for us to shower separately. Okay? Do you realize you’re staring at my private parts?”
“Yes, mommy. I think they’re fascinating.” Case in point. Keen observation skills accompanied by a knack for stating the obvious. That’s my boy.
And by the way, a family that flosses together, stays together.
Till tomorrow… Good night. Sleep tight.