Sunday, May 8, 2011

Evolution of the Common Bathroom

First off, let me do a survey of a common bathroom before children.  And by common I don’t necessarily mean your average bathroom, but the bathroom that is shared with your guests, the one near the common area in your house.

In this scenario, the house has only two bathrooms, which makes it necessary to turn the guest bathroom into the kid(s)’ bathroom on his/her arrival. This is the bathroom that, when you’re first nesting, gets the fluffy, monogrammed, high thread-count towels that were wedding gifts. They are probably a light color, providing the openness and tidiness that your guests deserve.
There are some expensive-looking stress relief candles and exotic-smelling room spray artfully displayed on the otherwise bare, spotless counter. Perhaps potpourri is nestled in a delicate basket on top of the toilet and even a tiny carafe of mouthwash stands discreetly next to the room spray. The faucet has been shined and reflects the guests’ faces when they slip into the bathroom during your strictly adult party. The floor is still spotless from when you moved in and scrubbed the grout between the tiles with a toothbrush, what was it, four years ago? Pretty much all the room needs to stay clean is a quick sweeping and brief swipe of the toilet bowl every couple months. The rug is thick and deep and envelops the feet of the guests in foot-hugs upon each visit, evoking contended sighs. The mirrors reflect the bright white lights, the neat paint job, and of course the smiling guest, who feels refreshed after a squeaky-clean bathroom experience.

When you first have the baby or twins, (and from here on I’ll just assume they’re twins, since mine are and it’s easier for me to write that way.) the transformation of the bathroom is gradual. A few precious washcloths appear in a tidy new basket on the back of the toilet, folded. Maybe one time you leave out that blue snot-sucker thing when someone comes over and you get hot with embarrassment and vow to never leave it in plain sight again. You accidentally leave the shower curtain open, exposing the little tub inside the big tub, and the rubber ducky thermometer. Oh well. It’s kind of cute, right? Most people visiting in those first weeks after the birth of the babies are there to see the babies anyway.
Then suddenly they are big enough to sit on their own in the tub and they get one of those faucet covers so when they bonk their heads it doesn’t hurt. It looks like a duck or a frog—friendly. Then there are the primary-colored awkwardly-stacking buckets and the plastic vehicles that squirt water: boat, plane, car, etc.  Soon the squirty purple scooter inevitably ends up behind the toilet just out of view, where it leaks its contents onto the floor to gather dust and you see it every once-in-awhile and are grossed out and reach to pick it up, but one of the twins is about to pee all over the floor and probably the wall while he waits for his clean diaper so you don’t get it or see it until next time and you reach for it just when one of boys falls into the tub in his clothes because he wants the teddy bear back that he threw in that is now swirling around in the water. Soon it’s pointless to even think about the stupid purple scooter and it becomes part of the backdrop of the room.

As the boys become more and more brazen, even downright obnoxious, in the tub, they splash large quantities of water on the floor so it is only natural to lay down a towel and of course you need a stool to sit on next to the tub so your knees don’t explode every time you bathe them. At first you pick up the towel after bathtime but as you learn that there is only so much time in the day (I don’t have time to spend picking the towel  up each time someone is coming over!) you stop that and leave the stool and the towel in front of the bath in the name of time management.
Then there are the washcloths. All the washcloths. Each bathtime you need at least two—one for each kid, and sometimes more. Who could possibly remember to throw them in the laundry after each bath and each handwashing or crusted-booger washing? And furthermore who can always remember there are dirty clothes on the floor and sometimes even dirty diapers? Once the monsters are out of the tub they are rejuvenated, naked forces to be reckoned with and need to get dressed and either into bed or into clothes for the day.
Behind the curtain...
Add to all this the occasional illness and the plethora of medicines and accompanying dispensers for each of them. Who wants to open the medicine cabinet to daintily finger through everything when you can just leave them there on the counter, roughly evenly spaced, in order to see them quicker and easier for any late-night catastrophes? There are the mini-toothbrushes and toothpaste with Thomas the Tank Engine or Pooh or whatever. No need to put those back in the cabinet of course. This whole routine is all going to happen twice more before you blink your eyes.
And the floor. Good God, the floor. Most likely under the corner of the cupboard you will find a car, a finger puppet, a drumstick for the play drum, a ball of some kind that may or may not have been in the toilet, one of the Buzz Lightyear squirt guns, and probably a small collection of raisins. There's no good time to sweep.

Really the catch-all place for me is the basket that used to contain the various neatly rolled-up hand towels and bath salts. I’m just going to come out and say that right now in the basket is a pair my underwear from when someone was folding laundry and mistook it for a washcloth. Why have I not put it in my drawer? Because when I think of it a boy is slapping at the toilet paper and squealing in delight as it pours to floor in a white flourish, while the other one drops a spoon in the toilet. I mean, that’s the most likely reason.

Also in the basket currently is a sock, powder, Q-tips (clean or dirty? Who’s to say?), bath crayons, nail clippers, regular diapers, night diapers, wipes, baby soap and shampoo, various containers of bubbles, butt cream, a plastic turtle, a cup holder from the stroller (?), Elmo bath books, foamy bath colors, and the other Buzz Lightyear squirt gun. And I didn’t even dig all the way to the bottom on one side because one time liquid baby soap spilled all over inside the basket and I found out by jamming my hand in it and I’m not in the mood to do that again.
Which brings me to further discussion of the floor between the tub and the toilet. It’s probably my least favorite space of all time. The soap easily spills out of the containers as I’m wrestling a boy into submission so I can do the unspeakable horrors of cleaning behind his ears. Each time I set the soap down I set it down there in that space. That unforgiving space. A thick, sticky residue sometimes builds up there, plastering the towel to the floor. Then there’s the cold humidifier the doctor suggested we get when she thought the boys had croupe, which the boys call the “water fan.” We only ever used it a couple nights and don’t have a great place to store it so we have it just around in the bathroom.
The bathroom looks just like it sounds—like a couple aisles at Target threw up all over an already- dirty bathroom. Sometimes I’ll go several days without even noticing the bathroom at all. When I do though, I take a deep breath (but not too deep because there’s probably a dirty diaper lurking) and remember what it used to be like and how predictable it was and that someday I’ll have a bathroom like it again. I might even miss this ridiculous chaos, so I’ll embrace the evolution of my bathroom, wipe down the sink and clean the sticky mystery-clump in the rug before guests come over. Take me or leave me, my bathroom is a maelstrom of well-loved plastic toys, damp lizard towels, and various forgotten fluids of the medicinal and bodily types.


  1. Dawn -- the Pioneer Woman has nothing on your blogging!

  2. I don't know exactly what that means...but I think I like it. :)


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