Wrath time / by Susie Lubell

It had been such a good day until bath time. I had a great meeting with a shop owner in Los Gatos and she ordered a bunch of framed prints. Then I did some work at home and headed over to Stanford to drop off the animal prints for the new waiting room in the Pediatric Oncology center. The administrator showed me where they were planning to hang them and it's going to look fantastic. Then I bought a bag of cherries and ate half the bag. And then I went to catch up with some friends at Stanford before I was on a panel for a group of young women at the Stanford Institute for General Management. We talked about what it was like 10-15 years into our careers and balancing work/family etc. I think I was a last-minute addition but I passed along some nuggets of wisdom without quashing any of their dreams of corner offices, designer strollers and imported nannies.

Then I picked up my son and we went to swim lessons which went swimmingly. And there was a new swim teacher and he was HOT. Seventeen and LOOKING GOOD. We drove back home, had some dinner, watched Clifford the Big Red Dog in Korean and then started bath time. Just at that moment my daughter comes running in. She had been at our friend's pool (the one at her condo complex where we sneak in) with her aba. They're not in the tub more than two minutes before they start bugging each other. My son has his two red washcloths and she's got a green one and a blue one. And now he wants a blue one. Sorry pal. And as I'm soaping up her hair he starts putting the washcloth on her head. She doesn't like it and I ask him to stop. He continues. I ask him again to stop. He doesn't. I grab the washcloths from him.

And he pitched a fit the likes of which I have not seen since I accidentally flushed his poop down the toilet instead of letting him do it. He screamed in the bathtub for half an hour. And there's something about the way he screams. It sounds like someone is torturing him. It's a very loud and sustained BELLOW is what it is. I just can't bear to hear it so I got my daughter out and left him in there by himself because I feared that if I'd stayed to listen any longer I would start bellowing back at him, are you KIDDING me you little shit!? You're screaming bloody murder about a goddamn washcloth. WASH CLOTH. Get over it! Or, hey, I have an idea. Why don't you try LISTENING to your mother for the first time in your life! And I went about drying and dressing my daughter while he just kept right on yelling over and over I want my red washcloths! After a few minutes I went back in and told him that he could have them back for his next bath time if he used them correctly to wash himself instead of dripping them on his sister. Nope. He wanted them back now. This is your punishment. You can have them next time. NOW! He just could not let it go. After a half hour of this his eyes are the color of the damn washcloths and he's starting to wheeze. But he stops his crying long enough for me to wash his hair and when he resumes the bellowing I leave the bathroom again. Finally he's ready to get out so I dry him off and he's very still and quiet. He gets in his pajamas and we go read a few stories including his favorite one, Sloth's Birthday Party. A modern classic. Or rather a classic from the mid-seventies that my mother-in-law found in her attic. It might be the only children's book in the world with a sloth for a main character.

And by the time he got into bed we were both exhausted. And tomorrow I have them for the whole day. I hope we all three survive.