When Riley was little we bathed him in one of those no-slip baby tubs, which we hovered around nervously because a tub could be formed of superglue and canvas straps and a baby would still slip around it in because wet babies are, in fact, the most slippery substance on earth.

By the time Dylan was born we had a larger tub and I took him in the bath with me, holding his tiny body in my arms and carefully resting his head away from the water.

When he was bigger, I sat in there with both boys, still holding Dylan, who couldn’t be trusted not to slide suddenly beneath the water as soon as my head was turned. Sometimes all four of us would get in together, and for all its discomforts (for instance: someone’s small toe, suddenly rudely intruding in your personal area) it was wonderful. Splashy, ridiculous, a whole family in a bathtub.

We quickly outgrew the ability for four people, and soon it was no longer possible to fit three. The last bath I took with both boys was pure insanity—water everywhere, a soapfight breaking out over my head, shrieks and giggles and sharp bony knees driving into my belly—and I was driven out before I even had a chance to rinse the suds off.

Now they take baths together, just the two of them. I look at these two small boys thrashing around in the tub together and think how we have these different ways of noting the passing of time. How some things hit you in a particular sort of way. Outgrown baby clothes, faded height markers drawn on a wall, an old photo that is all squirrel-fat cheeks and Cupid-bow mouth. The memory of bathtimes, and how they’ve changed.



21 Responses to “Bubbles”

  1. Laura on September 20th, 2010 9:31 pm

    Your tub looks so clean! And the water – my two would have turned the water beige with all their dirt.

  2. Leesie on September 20th, 2010 9:38 pm

    I used to have my two boys sit in the guest bathroom tub right off of our kitchen — they played and splashed while I made dinner. When their dad came home everyone was damp and warm and smelled like soap. That truly seems like yesterday and yet tomorrow I take my oldest boy off to the University of Oregon. It has been years since I put a warm, soapy boy into a two-piece set of footy pajamas but I remember the feeling of their wet curls on my shoulder as I took them down to meet their pappa each night. Time goes so very fast.

  3. Victoria on September 20th, 2010 9:56 pm

    No one is allowed to grow up or older any more. Freeze!

  4. Brigid on September 20th, 2010 10:50 pm

    My 3YO is the lone bathtub bather anymore. My 6YO insists on showers. It goes by so quickly. Enjoy the tandem baths while they last! (sniff)

  5. oregoncoastgirl on September 20th, 2010 11:46 pm


  6. Sarah on September 21st, 2010 4:25 am

    So sweet. I am still in this phase where they can fit in the tub together and I love it.

  7. Wendy on September 21st, 2010 5:24 am

    I loved the bathing with my son phase but now he has no interest in me being in the tub anymore. I just take up valuable space for toys. Sad for me.

  8. Taryn on September 21st, 2010 5:42 am

    I was so excited when I could put both girls in the bath alone together. I love bath time I sit next to them and read a book and it’s the one place that they play and have fun and never fight. It’s a favorite way to pass the time (and get clean) on nights when I’m the only parent home.

  9. Claudia on September 21st, 2010 5:50 am

    I had a moment like that last night as I watched my almost-ten-year-old daughter walk off to bed and suddenly her body was that of a preteen and not a child. She’s so tall and slim and lanky…..the child was gone. Poof. Just like that. I have no idea how so much time has passed. She and her younger sister used to take baths together but she’s been showering since first grade. Those splashy days are over.

  10. Sharon on September 21st, 2010 6:11 am

    I know! I was thinking about those tiny baby tubs recently. Now my boys take showers. These kids shouldn’t be allowed to grow up so fast!

  11. Sara on September 21st, 2010 6:16 am

    We just moved my little one from the baby tub into the real tub this week. It struck us both as an unexpected milestone…it seemed like such a big girl thing.

  12. TheGoriWife on September 21st, 2010 6:38 am

    I can’t imagine being able to string words together like you can. Thoughts, even. You are such an amazing writer!

  13. melanie on September 21st, 2010 6:39 am

    I know how you feel, we went on a 9 day camping trip in June that required us to take the kids in the shower with us (my 5 yr old son wanted to shower with his daddy and the 2 yr old girl showered with me)…. they loved it, we thought nothing of it, came back home and guess whose kids are STILL addicted to showers???? They shower together and they walk to the edge of the tub for me to shampoo and soap them down and then back to the water they go… I feel like I lost my babies!

  14. My Kids Mom on September 21st, 2010 6:45 am

    @Laura- we took a photo of our boys with bubble beards and santa hats and used it as a holiday card. Photoshop cleaned my tub better than I ever have!

    My boys came home from school (6yo&9yo) so hot last week and I knew it was a bath/shower night but was going to be really busy. So, I suggested they bathe together in the afternoon to cool off. I added bubbles, then brought in all the ice cubes from the freezer and dumped them in a bowl in the middle, between them. They hadn’t bathed together in a while (too crowded for even two now!) but had a great time.

  15. kim on September 21st, 2010 7:51 am

    I never got in the bath with both my girls at the same time (altho I suspect they would have loved that) – but did it with them a few times individually. What they used to really love was taking a bath together – bringing dolls with them, having the best time ever (even if sometimes the floor was nearly flooded). I can’t even remember the last time they did that – they are 8 and 11.

    Lovely writing – great memories. :)


  16. MRW on September 21st, 2010 9:24 am

    I stopped bathing with my son years ago and know my days of bathing with my daughter are limited. It’s like I miss it already.

    Also Leesie, you made me tear up. God the time goes so fast!

  17. Maria on September 21st, 2010 10:34 am

    A. the lighting in your bathroom is awesome

    B. crying, AGAIN

  18. telegirl on September 21st, 2010 10:40 am

    I could have written this, if I was a little more eloquent. We are at the stage where we do, on occasion, fit all four of us in there and it’s all arms and legs and soap and “Hey! Watch out there, buddy!”, but so much fun.

  19. jenni on September 21st, 2010 10:54 am

    My 3 year old informed me last night…it’s no fun for anyone to take a bath alone without toys, right mommy??

    Oh lord, if you only knew!

  20. Erika Peterson on September 22nd, 2010 11:57 am

    That picture is adorable!

  21. Kathleen on September 22nd, 2010 7:57 pm

    Awesome. We started by showering with our baby (holding him) – somehow less slippery. I envy the big tub family bath.

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