School starts this coming Wednesday and I think we are ready: new clothes have been bought, the backpacks are packed, HB#2 pencils are sharpened, and healthy lunch ingredients wait in the fridge.
All we need now is a good night’s sleep and a shower.
But therein lies the rub. Or rather, the rub-a-dub-dub, because one of my children doesn’t like to bathe.
I have three days left to reintroduce this child to warm soapy water. Soap has not touched his skin since the last week of June and that was because he accidentally grabbed a bar thinking it was white chocolate.
I’ve drawn a battle line in the dirt on his back and told him he’d have to bathe or shower the night before school starts.
Until now, he simply would not do it. Thankfully he’s had a lot of creek play and swimming pool time this summer. While those activities have kept his skin looking mostly dirt-free, I shudder to think what a microscope would reveal. I’ve tried all the usual bath tricks, including bubbles, coloured water, free rein with my beauty supplies for “making potions,” but he will not get in.
I cannot remember the last time he showered or bathed indoors and that can’t be right (or legal?) Maybe it was last Monday? Nope. We were out that night. Wednesday? No. No; on Wednesday we had baseball and were home too late for a bath. Thursday was laundry day so there were no towels, and Friday…well, on a Friday what’s the point of a bath if he’s going be making mud forts in the sandbox all weekend?
Is it possible that he hasn’t had a bath all month? All summer?
I’ve decided to not going to worry about it. We swim a lot, and chlorine is a disinfectant. Plus, he likes to roll in dirt, and I know in nature some animals clean themselves that way and I am all about nature. (I’m not actually; but I am great at self-justification.)
He weighs 2 pounds more than he did when school ended, and it’s not like he’s increased his food intake, because during the summer he subsists on peaches, snap peas, and frozen waffles. By the end of August he’s encased in a protective cocoon of sunscreen, bug spray and dirt. I’m glad that at eight years old his body doesn’t actually stink yet; I’ve spent time with older boys and they all smell like A&W onion rings.
I really, really don’t want him to smell like deep-fried fast food.
I also don’t want him to ever grow body hair, move far away, say something he thinks is innocuous but hurts someone forever, or marry a partner without a twisted sense of humour.
Today I stopped him in the hallway and sniffed his head. It smelled exactly how a boy’s head should: like garden hose water and popsicles.
If a bath takes that smell away, then I’m against them, too.