Bath time used to be easy.
I would cradle Toby in one hand and rinse his hair with the other before lowering him into his shallow baby tub. He would kick his legs to splash. I took him out when the water got cold.
Then he got to big too hold while I was washing his hair so it was just straight into the baby tub and he could now laugh at the splashes and play with a face cloth.
If I wanted a bath my mom walked around the house holding him. We don't have a working shower at my parents place so hair gets washed in the tub, but the danger of the tub is the urge to relax. No quick in-and-out without feeling like a waste of a good bath. And yes, taking time to relax is good and whatnot, but when you hear crying and know it's because you've vanished you feel the need to hurry up.
So we ha worked out a system, but it relied on my mom being home.
Then came the glorious realization that if I put Toby in his bouncy chair right beside the tub, he wouldn't freak out as long as i didn't leave the room.
Bath time freedom.
But then Toby got big enough to bounce himself out of the chair. But not big enough to sit on his own without falling on his face sporadically and crying until i picked him up.
Back to my baths being scheduled based on my mom being home.
Thankfully though, Toby still seemed to love his baths. He had a sitting ring in the tub so he could be up and move around and reach things a bit. I washed his hair and he didn't make a peep.
Then last summer when it was so hot we seemed to be having baths daily to cool off. Toby - now walking and talking- thew all of his toys in the tub and bounced up and down until I put him in. I would run a wash cloth through his hair but didn't always wash it so his skin wouldn't dry out.
The hot days ended and there came a point where I realized that Toby hadn't had a proper bath on almost a week.
But this time my bath suggestion was met with "No, NO!"...
I tried some more convincing and gave up. I didn't want bath time to be a negative thing.
The next day he readily had a bath, but whimpered when I washed his hair.
A month later those whimpers had turned into wails. I touched water to his head and he whipped around and shrank back from me and burst into tears. I had to use a wash cloth to wipe the soap from his hair (the little he had let me put in) so it took twice as long to get it all out.
I don't know what went wrong. I don't know what traumatizing event happened that made him hate baths suddenly. I never dumped water in his face. He never got soap in his eye. Was it because we had too many in the summer? Because he now realized bath time didn't have to involve a hair wash? Just because he now had formulated his own opinions?
I ended up taping pictures of tractors to the ceiling for him to look at and tell me about. I used the little bath toy people to wash his hair. I got him to wash their hair. It would work for a minute and then he'd be whimpering again... at least no shrieking anymore.
One day when my mom hadnt been home to watch him in a while and I was sporting desperately dirty hair I told Toby that I was having a bath and he didn't have to have one but he had to come in the bathroom with me and I needed his help to hand me the shampoo. His face lit up. He stood at the side of the tub with a grin on his face.
"Mommy habing bath!"
"Yep, Toby. Having a bath."
"In the nice warm water!" He poked one finger in but quickly took it out again.
"Yeah it's pretty hot water. But it's nice for mommy"
"Yep, there it is"
"Maybe when I get out ok?"
"Toby hand me shampoo?"
"Yes you can hand me the shampoo Toby, that would be a big help"
This was the routine for about 4 hair washes. He always asked to have a bath after and so he did and i washed his hair saying that mommy did it first and now it's Toby's turn, and then i got time to dry my hair while he played in the tub.
This morning however, we woke up and I said we were going to have baths today. He burst into tears. Like full blown sobbing.
"TOBY HAVE BATH!"
"Yeah... that's what i said.... Mommy needs to wash her hair and then Toby gets to play while i get dressed"
"Ok you can play with Gramma then while I wash my hair"
"NO NO! TOBY HAVE BATH!"
"YES... I said YES, Toby can have a bath... just mommy needs to wash her hair first"
So ok fine, he can have a bath first. Dripped some water on his head and endless sobbing again.
Finally got hair washed and he left to wake up Gramma while I had a bath... Drive me mental.
I'm hoping it's just a phase. I'm hoping it's just because it's colder weather so he doesn't like being wet or something... except he seems to enjoy just playing in the water.
My parents keep telling me to enjoy every stage because in a month everything will be different... for better or for worse....
So through the tears and the struggle to keep a schedule, I won't get back the curly haired bath baby that I have now.
We just need to keep trying to improve the drama. One bath at a time.