I sit in the rocking chair and read a book to the freshly bathed baby, who smells like the breath of heaven. On the other side of the wall, the shower runs. I can hear the rush of water, the splattering noise it makes on the curtain liner. But louder than either of those sounds is the contented off-key humming of my older daughter, seven-year-old Natalie.
It was just last week that she stunned my husband and me by announcing, “I think I’d like to take a shower tonight.” Surprised, we agreed she could try.
Up to this point, we, the parents, have been in charge of the nightly anti-germ ritual for all three of our children, and it has always taken the form of a bath. In fact, we sometimes used the shower as a threat when faced with bath time belligerence.
“Fine, if you don’t want a bath tonight, would you rather take a shower?”
“NOOOO! No showers!” the children would wail in return. Because, after all, what kid wants to stand alone in a semi-dark space and fight to keep shampoo from running into their eyes?
But Natalie’s determined yet nonchalant request last week didn’t betray fear. In fact, her voice was excited.
She was ready to move on.
The first night, my husband stood near the shower and told her what to do. “You need to lean your head way back to get out all the shampoo. … Just shut your eyes. … You’re going great!”
By the second night, she was mostly alone, with just a few check-in sessions from one of us.
By the third night, she was showering like a pro, completely unassisted. She took to singing in the stall, humming and dancing and spinning under the falling water.
She’s so proud of herself.
Even now, I can hear her new self-confidence in the lilting notes, the gentle harmony of water and delight.
Then, suddenly, the shower turns off. The curtain screeches like fingernails on a chalkboard as its pulled aside.
And I hear the water, just like the years, drain away faster than I can comprehend.
Kelly also blogs at Love Well.