At some point after you bring home Baby #2, your new reality will hit you hard. And the reality is this: you are in way over your head.
Sometimes it hits you early and often. You’ll be negotiating a poop-covered, squirming baby when you hear a trouble-seeking toddler exclaim from the other room, “Uh oh!” Or maybe you’ll survive the baby days and be blindsided by your inadequacies once Child #2 becomes mobile.
Activities that were once ordinary now become tests of mental and physical endurance. You think you are going to quickly drop by the store to buy a gallon of milk? Think again. You were planning on making an actual meal for dinner? Don’t bother; the microwave was surely invented by someone with multiple children. You would like to bathe yourself or your children on a regular basis, in a manner that doesn’t inspire post-traumatic stress in any of you? I recommend just hosing everyone down outside for the first couple of years to save yourself the bathroom scars.
Because Bath Time will never be the same again.
Siblings can have moments of extreme adorableness that make you beam as you observe their closeness and healthy, blossoming relationship. Then they can have moments that make you wonder if you are possibly in the beginning stages of a future Dateline episode.
Never will this range of emotions unfold more quickly than when two children are in a bathtub together. Maybe the warm water scrambles their brain chemistry? I’m not sure. But whatever the reason, the results are the same: bubbles gone bad. Remember how cute Child #1 was in the bath? Splishing and splashing with delight, playing with cute rubber duckies and various squirt toys? Maybe there was even some adorable bath paint involved. Oh, the bubbles, giggles, and clean body parts!
Go ahead and hold on to that memory as tightly as you can. Because it’s going to become very distant as soon as Child #2 belly flops into Bath Time.
Gone are the days of innocent splashes. We have now entered the Battle of the Bath. If you are actually able to bathe both children during the Battle, you should consider yourself a tremendous success. Yes, the amount of water on the floor looks like you attempted to bathe two very large, flopping fish, but let’s not focus on the negative. Also, if you were hoping to make it through the Battle without any tears shed (by the parents or the children), you were being more than a little unrealistic. Let’s try to keep our goals attainable, please.
One child will want to splish and the other will want to splash. Then one will inevitably elevate the splashing to violent levels. At which point, the other child will develop a newfound and fatal allergy to water touching their body. (The allergy doesn’t affect the body parts submerged in the water already. It’s a very specific allergy.)
Bubbles will be introduced in an effort to broker peace. Everyone loves the bubbles. Until they don’t. It was a thrilling 6.2 seconds of bubble bliss. But when the bliss ends, it is very hard to remove said bubbles from the bath. Bubbles are not meant to be destroyed, only to multiply. While one child will find this endlessly entertaining, the other will begin shrieking in agony because there are bubbles on their head and face.
In a last-ditch effort to salvage the innocence of this once delightful activity, you will bring out the bath toys. What could go wrong with bath toys, really?
The answer is everything. Everything can go wrong.
No matter how many toys there are, each child will obsess over the same rubber duck. Obviously, it’s the best rubber duck; anyone can see that. Neither child can go on without this rubber duck. It is up to you to decide which child you love more, and therefore who will get the toy. And don’t think you can just put the toy away. Nice try. Putting the toy away only results in inconsolable screams because, let’s face it, you have ruined their entire childhoods.
So you draw an invisible line down the middle of the bath. You divide the toys. You instruct the children to play in peace on their assigned side.
They have been in the bath for only two and a half minutes at this point. You have grown four gray hairs in that time.
When the three minute mark rolls around, the children are done playing peacefully and have started throwing their toys over the imaginary line. Naked chaos ensues: splashing, ducks being fashioned into weapons, and private parts flailing about.
Bath Time is now over. You’ll count the three minutes of submersion in water as cleaning the bottom half of the children. Hopefully tomorrow you can figure out a way to bathe the top halves of their bodies. But don’t get too ambitious. You aren’t a miracle worker.