People are always saying how important it is to take time for yourself. “Me time.” You read this in magazines, and people announce that you need this when you look frazzled. It’s not just something that would be nice, but it’s something that’s necessary for health. Just Google it and you’ll find at least half a million articles on it, chock full of helpful hints, such as “Somehow find the time and money to book a trip by yourself,” and “Turn off your phone and enjoy some peace that will immediately be ruined when you turn it back on again and see that you have 12 new emails and 4 missed calls.”
It dimly occurs to me that this concept is probably right, however. You probably do lose your marbles if you don’t get any me time. That’s why I have lost mine, you see. I do things like forget to turn in the right place when I’m driving, and I argue with four-year-olds.
Tonight, for some reason, the children basically announce that they are putting themselves to bed when we get back from soccer. Being a complete fool, I think, Score! I have a free moment!
I go into the bathroom and start the bathtub. Unfortunately, our only tub is in the bathroom most used by the children (although they prefer the one adjacent to my room when I’m sleeping), and it also has lighting that manages to be both ghoulish and blinding.
Ow, my eyes!
This one’s fluorescent.
The bathroom is also fairly cramped.
And it has one of those tubs that’s not quite large enough for adults.
In other words, spa-like is not the first term that comes to mind when you enter this bathroom. But a bath sounds nice. I add some various household items for therapeutic purposes, and step in.
Yow! It’s hotter than Hades. Giving up my scalded feet for lost, I hover in a squat over the water until it cools to the approximate temperature of magma, and then lower myself in.
My phone is out of batteries and I haven’t thought to bring a book, so I have a few quiet moments to myself to think. This is interrupted when the door abruptly swung open.
An older child looks in and took in me sitting there, naked, in the bath. “Whoa!” The child looks blankly at me for a while, and then sheepishly, eventually. “I just have to go potty.”
The child sits on the toilet, and starts to talk loudly to me. I cringe.
Just a few moments in, I hear a grunt. Oh no! I didn’t hear peeing! What’s happening? I brace myself, accepting that I am officially trapped in the bathroom with someone doing a number two. Who keeps talking joyfully all the while.
“Why is the water yellow?” the child asks.
“I added some stuff to it.” Silence. “Some apple cider vinegar, and some scented oil, and…”
“Oh, that’s why it smells like that! It smells just like apple cider!”
Please, please don’t talk about smells. Please hurry up.
The child at least remembers to flush, but starts to head out of the bathroom without washing hands. “Wash hands!” I holler after the child’s receding back. The child returns and sheepishly washes hands. I feel myself break into a sweat in the scalding, yellow water.
Within two minutes, the door abruptly swings open again and a squinty younger child looks in. “I just have to pee,” the child announces, and I heave a sigh of relief. Though admittedly this child is an unreliable narrator at best.
The child pees, asking, “Why is the water yellow?”
I explain, and the child finishes and walks over to the sink. The child turns to look at me, and assesses me sitting there. The child smiles widely. “I like you,” the child announces, and I decided to feel that this is a cute compliment rather someone leering at me. “What’s that on your butt?”
Sweet feeling gone. I quell my desire to bark at the child to get the h-e-l-l out of the bathroom. I patiently but grumpily launch into the same explanation of adults’ bodies that I have already give this exact child multiple times–basically each time this child has seen me naked. The child smiles sweetly at me, and washes hands. And leaves. Leaving the door swinging open.
A cold draft fills the bathroom, but it is actually kind of welcome, since the water is still somehow at least 170 degrees. I can hear the younger child drifting aimlessly around the hallway rather than going back to bed. I have this way of sensing when I can still hear him breathing, lurking.
I hear Leon leave another child’s bedroom. He peeks around the wide-open door at me.
“The child left the door open,” I explain.
“Why is the child out here in the hallway with a book?”
“He’s not supposed to be.”
Leon sends the child to bed with some kind words and threats of consequences. He peeks back around the doorway.
“Why is the water yellow?” he asks.