I thought I had it bad with the boys when they were teens. Never wanting to take baths. But with the autism…PanKwake can give them lessons!
When she was younger, she LOVED baths. I can remember actually feeling guilty about wasting all that water…and the poor children in Africa. But it was one of her favorite ways to self-soothe. I could be running four or five tubs a day. She would stay in it for 20 minutes or more.
But not for the past year or so. Now…I have to literally drag her kicking and screaming into the tub. Oh, I have come up with my tricks too…
- Regina (her carer) doesn’t want to smell you.
- The showers at the pool works wonderfully (Thursday and Saturday…if she will go).
- Now that summer is upon us…sprinklers in the park (yes, I carry a bar of soap in my bag just for that), super soakers and water balloon fights.
- And the best of all…baby wipes…for the days when she just won’t.
Yes, I do draw the line at stinking…but that is why the baby wipes. And hair? Forget that…not happen. Though she is pretty good at brushing her teeth at least once a day even without being told.
But the thing is…just how fucking important is it?
This is yet another of those ‘societal rules’ that the autism challenges. In the US and UK, I know that daily baths are ‘standard.’
Goddess knows even though I am NOT a girly girl, I have to have mine to feel clean. In the summer time, it might even be twice a day. Hell, I wash my hair every day too.
But in other countries…other cultures…bathing is much less frequent. Sometimes this is because of the shortage of water, other times it is simply not part of their rituals.
Hell, historically, this is a relatively recent trend in the US and UK too. Growing up…every other day was the norm. With what even my genteel Nanny called a ‘whore’s bath’ in between (washing the important parts).
It was not that long ago that Saturday was ‘bath day’. That is part of the origin of the saying…cleanliness is next to godliness. Getting ready for church by taking your weekly bath.
And Europe? Throughout history…well bathing has been seen as a sin (vanity) and even unhealthy. Your jaws may have dropped at once a week…try once or max of twice a YEAR?!?
Which gets me back to my point…bathing is as much an issue of societal ‘norms’ as anything else.
So am I a ‘bad’ mother for not dragging her kicking and screaming to the shower more often? For not torturing her with combs, picks, relaxants, gels and creams for her hair? I am sure that some people think so when they see her slightly dishevelled appearance. But as Mere-Mere so impolitely says…You don’t know my life.
My child is bright, healthy and HAPPY. Does getting a bath every single day REALLY matter that much? Enough to increase her stress and anxiety? Just so strangers on the street won’t condemn and judge us? What do you think?
This is what I think…
Lesson learned here, Dame Helen.