Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The battle of the bathroom, June 2010

This hour's going down in the family annals. After a Saturday night in six year's time it'll be Tiger's defence against the Old Bill, when she's up on charges of disorderly conduct, theft, criminal damage, joy-riding, public intoxication, and GBH. This will be the defining moment. So I'll make my statement now and open up a fighting fund to pay the lawyers.

This is also an example of gross parenting fail, so make sure you learn from Grit's disastrous approach to handling small pre-teen type people. Just learn from it, and do the proper thing, which is: Exit the bathroom, pour yourself a large glass of Lagavulin and watch old episodes of Corrie. That is the proper parenting response to what I am about to narrate.

Readers of this blog probably know that Tiger is a special sort of hyper sensitive child, affected emotionally by air temperature, molecules, atoms, and basically all sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures that the world has to offer. She also carries a 400lb barrel of Semtex in her forehead. It's connected to a very short fuse. The fuse can be lit at any moment by a wide variety of materials, such as the colour green, a wobbly 2B pencil line, the arrangement of soil, and the sight of mama with a comb.

Now at first, all goes badly. I should know this, and retreat. But no. I think I can help make things better.

It is hair washing night for Tiger. After the last skirmish with the hair I suggested that Tiger might now take responsibility for combing her own hair. After all, she has made double figures and I never sold her for medical experiments.

But that is too big a responsibility, and she will not do it. She will not do it, even though she won't allow me to do that combing business, either. And not her sisters, not daddy, not anyone. Not anyone dressed a horse, or pretending to be a horse, either. We already tried it. And she will not get the problem we all have, that she is walking about with the equivalent of an enormous hairy pan scrubber fastened to the back of her head, a lump which is basically made of matted felted hair. And does that look neglectful to you?

So a week goes by and I bite my knuckles, then a fortnight, and I can take it no longer. It is hair washing night for Tiger.

And that's when the howling starts. I mean howling, like screaming that you are being tortured by the sight of water. At which point I suggest conditioner might help and the howling grows to epic proportions because conditioner always goes in her eyes and always blinds her and always is made of hydrochloric acid and always is made especially by mama deliberately for the intent of blinding, poisoning and otherwise disfiguring a perfectly healthy set of eyeballs.

So I remain as calm as I can and I coax the embodiment of Howl under the shower and apply the miracle super strength detangling hydrochloric acid and suggest she now finger combs the pan scrubber. Then I quickly depart because my eardrums have burst.

When I return ten minutes later, she is out the shower. Or rather the shower is out and all over the bathroom floor, and a howling Tiger with a pan scrubber larded with conditioner is howling fit to bust. It takes some effort to get her back in the shower, not even to comb her hair, but to rinse out the conditioner of Satan from her hair and try finger combing the dreaded locks.

Then things become hysterical. And I maybe do nothing more than scream back into the howl, demonstrate my zero parental abilities and snap back my fingers which are itching to engage in a spot of child brutality and wield a pair of scissors, say, five inches up from the ends.

Now I can think about it and know it was a totally unattractive demonstration of sub humanity, all with the howling snot and screaming from the pair of us, both operating without frontal lobes but with plenty of high emotion, that I'm surprised you didn't call the police, just in case you suspected murder, arson, kidnapping and horse whipping.

It is also possibly the worst bathtime I ever experienced in my life. I came out of it wanting to tear up that contract I wrote in blood ten years ago. I wanted to rip it to pieces because I never even knew that I signed it. And this thing I have to do called parent? That's an unwanted burden someone gave me, and they can have it right back, thanks.

The parent side of me tells me to shut the crap up, and pray that I took every opportunity when she was little to hold her tight, and tell her that I loved her, more than anything in the whole world. Because in these days of warfare I fear there'll be few opportunities to make her hear me say those words, and more, to believe me.


MadameSmokinGun said...

It was around April, 2 years ago, that I officially abdicated all parental duties. I had decided that as I had made such mess of my own life I had no business telling the shorter people who lived in the same house what to do. Apart from the occasional arm-fling at the point of crossing a road, and seemingly being the only person capable of refilling a bottle with tap water, we now share 'the same boat' and all suggestions how to row to shore are treated equally.

Talking to a old chum on the phone recently about this she was shocked it had taken me so long to reach this stage. We agreed that being a good parent is SO last decade.

I would love to give you some advice on the built-in brillo pad cushion 'do' as Minx had worked this look for years but:

a) the only advice I ever give is to not listen to anyone's advice

b) I've only just realised on reading your post that Minx's brillo pad has disappeared of late - and I've no clue how/why etc

How about a hat?

sharon said...

Yep, a hat or a severe haircut!

Deb said...

Ah, Grit. I've got nothing useful, just deepest condolences.

I go through this regularly with a feisty three year old, but she is still young enough for me to haul to the salon and have her hair hacked off. It can be only long enough for a ponytail so it stays out of her dinner. I recently realized the wonder of spray-on detangler, which has helped somewhat.

As to that last paragraph, I can relate - there are nights I lay in bed and count the ways I am effing up the whole thing. Dang it.

Well, tomorrow's another day. On your way to get better fitting pants, you can pick up a hat.

emma said...

There's a lovely moment in the wonderful wonderful movie "The Boys are Back" where the father says "I am absolutely strict about hairwashing. It happens whenever he has his hair cut. And that is non-negotiable. Every six months, whether it needs it or not".

You could try using a soft baby brush. Yes it takes hours, but if you hold the hair above the knot, and move the hair away from the brush rather than the brush through the hair, you can get rid of some quite impressive bird nests without pulling.

Tessa said...

Buy a tangleteezer (£9.99 from Boots and they look a bit like horse grooming gear...) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tangle-Teezer-Professional-Detangling-Hairbrush/dp/B00264NW7G
They look weird but they work!

Maire said...

Don't have a solution, thank god for straight hair, although mine did look like and uncared for ragamuffin for about two years until an slight interest in appearance raised its head a few months ago.

Tiger sound so very similar to my dd, just bought her ear defenders for the sound issue and spent many an hour searching ebay for the exact grown out of item of clothing. So you can see I have not been as brave as you and took the cowards way out.

Although I know it felt like hell at the time for me it made me giggle which was exactly why I came her after a tedious couple of days dealing with the intricacies of the Freedom of Information act.

Bee said...

you mean it doesn't get any better by the time they're 10 ? Mine's only 6!!
As for the 3 year old brother with the short back and sides but who still slavishly copies everything his beloved big sister does...

Bath time is not my finest parenting hour, put it that way.

Nacmacfeegle said...

I have a 12 year old (boy) with middle back length hair. 2 girls of 4 and 9 with bottom length hair. Can you imagine the fun we have?! We officially have no windows left - they've all been shattered through the high pitched screaming. They've all just had nits. The joy.

Big mamma frog said...

Hmm...sell her to a travelling circus and then she can grow dreads with pride.

Or tell her you always wanted to be a hairdresser, can you practise on her?

Similar problem here with the boys who have longer hair than most girls I know. We've had to instill a twice-daily brushing routine, supervised by The Daddy who is far stricter than me and doesn't flinch when they wail.

belzi23 said...

I can so sympathise with you. My DD has just this very day had 6 inches cut off her birdnest. I think the threat of Social Services coming round to investigate her screams might have had something to do with her agreeing (finally) to that. Ho hum!

emma said...

solution #15 is never to wash the hair of course. I don't use anthing but water on mine - there's a six week grease-horror period and then it's fine.

and solution #17 is to ensure one's daughter's are sufficientl enamoured of Dora the Explorer that the demand a neat little bob just like their heroine. Might not still work with a 10 ear old, but if ou do our brainwashing thoroughl enough, I don't see wh it shouldn't

(sorr about the lacking letter on m keboard...)

emma said...

and even sorrier about the stra apostrophe, which Grit's cop editing mind must be reeling at...

Clare said...

Grit, you should receive some kind of award for services to the reality of motherhood. I screamed 'I hate bedtimes!' in my 4 year old's face this evening. It was gone 9:30pm, with him, dd(2) and dd(8 mos) all yelling, but still, another one for the not-my-finest-moments scrapbook (thank God that doesn't exist!).

Grit said...

mme sg, i bet you do that TCS stuff and have the badge to prove it. the problem is (apart from i am a controlling dictator) is that i have a problem with her looking like a feral hound and my problem needs addressing too, no matter how irrational it is. (i know this is a weak argument, and that the next step is for me to lie down on the floor and squeal.) i'm working on my irrationalities, but i already have no knuckles left thanks to the leggings.

sharon, i would love for them to have a haircut and i would hate it too, because it would just be so darn sensible.

deb, you have given us a measure: 'hair that's too long is hair that falls in your dinner'. that sounds perfect.

emma, that might be something to try too. i read recently how open heart surgery isn't as painful if you stick on a movie first. we might try that more often than we do (film, not surgery).

thanks for that tessa! i'll give that a go! and you're right - it says HORSE and PINK. you might have cracked it.

maire, i've spent some time looking back at your foi stuff. The word stamina comes to mind.

hi, bee! there's an idea - we need to share bathtime strategies. i can add painting patterns on the bathroom ceiling to get the critters to look upwards and not down at hair-sluicing time.

Hi, nmf! Nits! The horror! you have my sympathies. How I dread the return of those vile beings.

Big mamma, that's what i need. an unflinching, unmoved presence who doesn't mind combing twice a day. that's some hairy boot camp you've got going.

hi, belzi; but you managed to persuade her! that's pretty impressive. threats are rarely useful here. they just say 'go on then' and i crumple.

emma, don't ever replace your keyboard. that is brilliant. you should market that.

hugs, clare, because it's rubbish when it happens, but it has a good side too; we all get together afterwards and talk about how rubbish it was and how it will never ever be that rubbish ever again (until next time). i think that's at the heart of family.

Rachel M. said...

I guess I have to sympathize with Tiger on this one because it brings back a painful childhood memory. I had long hair down to my bum (remember, strange religion, not allowed to cut hair, very long, very thick hair, all one length. It had developed a massive amount of tangled knots around the base of my skull but I managed to keep the top layer smooth so it looked okay. Looking back my mom probably knew was was up and was terrified to mess with it because I would have had the same reaction as Tiger. It wasn't until I was sent on a church sleep over several states away that other girls from my church noticed my hair and demanded I wash it with conditioner an!d let them comb it out. I cried for 3 hours while they combed out those hideous knots. Their father still reminds me of it when he sees me 20 years later - I avoid him when I attend my mom's church. So in the off chance that your daughter would be sent off to spend a week with cruel friends who taunt her hair - you did her a favor! Just feel better for my sake!!! And I swear I never got another unmanageable tangle again.