“Did you wash your hands?”
“Can I see them?”
She holds up her hands, which are completely dry.
“Hmm… Let’s go check the bathroom.”
“Okay.” I note the drop in her enthusiasm.
A quick inspection shows that the sink and countertop are both completely dry. So is the towel.
“Honey, it’s just not possible for you to wash your hands in here and have the sink not at least get a little wet.”
Long pause from my daughter as she contemplates a crafty reply that accounts for the lack of water anywhere on the sink or counter top.
“Wash your hands, sweetie.”
“Okay, Daddy,” she says, surrendering.
After a few rounds of those types of inspections, she took to running up to me after she’s used the bathroom and gleefully shouting “Look Dad, I washed my hands!” being sure to let me feel her outstretched, wet fingers.
On rare occasions, she would get tangled up her clothing, rushing to get out of it in order to use the toilet. That doesn’t happen as much in summertime, when her attire is a steady parade of t-shirts and shorts – no shoes, ever. You can make her put them on, but they are off again as soon as you look away. On any given day you can find half a dozen tiny pink sneakers under our living room sofa. In winter, even in Florida, it gets cold; and that’s when more clothing tangles occur. Leggings, jeans, long socks, or 1-piece footie pajamas; those all tend to come off fast enough to use the bathroom, but once they’re off, if they get tangled in the pre-potty rush, they don’t go back on as quickly. It’s kind of like her Barbies: the clothes come off but just can’t seem to get back on. But while she will leave naked Barbies all over the house, she gets frustrated when she can’t get her own clothes back on. I’ve heard her crying because she simply cannot untangle a pants leg. That always struck me as strange, too; she can spend 20 minutes trying to get the new Angry Birds cartoon downloaded onto her iPad, but if her Levi’s don’t miraculously turn right-side-out in 10 seconds, she loses it.
Those kinds of those problems are annoying (Crying over a pants leg? Really? Okay, here’s how you do it… again…), but they are usually not as bad as what can happen when she’s done using the bathroom and is still having a good time in there. You can get quite a surprise. I’ve walked by and seen water everywhere, while the kid is apparently still getting ready to wash her hands. Water on the floor, the walls, the mirror, and all over the sink, while she stands happily on her little stepstool smiling back at me in the mirror. That’s something else she can do for 20 minutes, now that she’s figured out how to use both faucets to make the water warm. Her hands may or may not actually get washed in the process, but the rest of the bathroom sure does.
She hasn’t figured out that she can flush things like toys down the toilet yet, thank God. I have a secret bank account just for that future plumber’s bill.
These days, the bathroom has turned into an occasional source of surprises, so it is a wise parent who pays some attention when their child jumps up and runs off to use the bathroom, as is Savvy’s method. Once in a while, she’ll make an announcement to us: “I need to go potty!” like she is waiting for permission. She has carte blanche for that; potty requirements trump all else. But usually she just quickly disappears, and we will notice her running down the hall.
That was the case yesterday. She scampered off to use the bathroom, while Michele was on the phone and I was on my computer. When I stood up to stretch and get some more tea, I noticed my daughter’s socks from the day before, discarded on the living room floor. I picked them up and walked over to the laundry room, passing the bathroom on the way.
Savvy was sitting on the toilet, and called out for Mommy.
For most tasks at this age, parents are interchangeable. I put my head in the door.
“What’s up, honey?” I asked.
She looked at me. “I want Mommy.”
“Mommy is on the phone,” I replied. “But I’m here; what do you need?”
“I want Mommy.”
I can’t think of anything that specifically requires Mommy during a routine trip to the bathroom. It certainly isn’t modesty; I still give the kid baths. So it was a little strange for Savvy to be so insistent that she needed Mommy. I persisted one last time, hearing Michele wrapping up her call.
“Why do you need Mommy in here? What for?”
There was a long pause from Savvy.
“Because I want to give her a hug.”
Then there was a long pause from me. I hadn’t anticipated a toilet hug request.
“Oh,” I said. “Okay.”
My wife was coming down the stairs. She had heard herself being summoned and had wrapped up her call. I let her take over.
I don’t know if she got a hug or not, and I was happy to let Michele assume whatever other bathroom duties needed to be attended to. I’m not sure if it was a warning shot across my bow; I don’t think so. But it woke me up, a little, to the fact that one day there will be Mommy moments that Daddy can’t help with, or isn’t wanted for. I’m okay with that. I just didn’t think it would be so soon.
But that’s always the case for us Dads, isn’t it?
For more amazing cuteness from my 4 year old daughter and the rest of her hilarious family, check out my Savvy Stories book series here. (Book two is on sale today) http://www.amazon.com/Dan-Alatorre/e/B00EUX7HEU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1