Of course, I always write school-related columns this time every year. Being a teacher for almost 25 years, starting school is always monumental time. I always seem to write columns about how no one understands the life of a teacher.
So, here we are again. The start of another school year and my life seems to be on one continuous crazy racetrack. Every moment seems to be taken up with thinking about school and how to stay one step ahead of the kids.
The beginning of every year is like this. There are certain things you can’t prepare for. You just have to jump in and get started.
This past weekend, I decided it was time to do some mundane things that didn’t relate to school.
We washed our windows. We washed window screens. We knocked down outside spider-webs that seem to spring up overnight when one lives amongst the trees.
It wasn’t exactly fun. It’s not something I or anyone in the house looks forward to doing.
We cleared some charity items out of our garage, finally, and hauled them off to the place one hauls items to give away.
While mother and older sister were running errands and after the windows were finished, the baby and I sat down for a popsicle.
Popsicles are fascinating things in the hands of a 2-year- old. They create lovely, tie-dyed patterns on necks and arms. Some of the design trickled down and stained her little belly, also creating a nice print on the outside of her t-shirt.
After I had watched the last bit drop off the stick and the last bit of popsicle be chased around the table, captured and plopped in the mouth, I decided a bath was in order.
Bath time is a delightful time when you have a little one. It’s true what they say: kids are almost always in a good mood in the tub. We scrubbed off the tie-dyed popsicle mess and lathered up with soap.
Our bath time was not unlike any other bath times. The baby played with toys and washed the hair of her little plastic dolls. We sang songs. I sat on the floor and listened to the happy chatter a warm bath often causes.
When it was time to wash hair, I knew one small moment could destroy this bath time bliss.
You see, ever since I became a dad, I never have been able to get my children to cooperate with me when it comes to rinsing the hair.
We’ve tried swim goggles and everything else. My wife has a knack for it. I, a more infrequent giver of baths than the wife, have no knack at all.
I usually cause crying and gnashing of teeth. My philosophy of “grin and bear it” and “it’ll be over fast” doesn’t work with my kids. I have caused all of them pain when we rinse hair during bath time.
But today was different. We had a pleasant time. When it was time to rinse, I simply said “OK. Lean your head way back and look up at the sky.” Luckily, we have a small skylight in our bathroom.
This was nothing new. I’d heard Michelle say this numerous times. It had never worked with me.
But you know what? This time it worked! She leaned her little head back. I gently rinsed the hair with the big plastic cup we always use. Heck, I even filled the cup again with the clean rinse water from the faucet and rinsed a second time!
No one reading this may understand my excitement. However, I felt as though I reached a milestone.
Here I was, a dad for more than 15 years and on my fourth and final child. I had mastered, finally, the art of rinsing hair in the bathtub.
Later on, after I had talked about this victory long enough for my wife to grow tired of the accolades I was bestowing on myself, I took a walk around the house.
I marveled at the cleaned garage. I picked up a broom and swept where the charity items had lived for a while. Sometimes, an empty space is comforting.
I walked back inside and stared at all the glistening, clean, windows. I was hoping the birds wouldn’t fly full-speed into them (it’s happened before).
I watched my happy, clean daughter still happily playing, knowing that nary a drop of soap had gotten in her little eyes.
And I thought to myself: in the midst of these hectic days the beginning of school can create, I thank God for the little celebrations of peaceful bath times, tidy garages and squeaky clean windows.