This is one my favorite Notes in the universe of my three books – it is also one of the longer ones too. It covers something simple: getting your little kids ready for bed, along with their bath. Simple things that everyone with children sees but as with many of life’s activities that seem mundane something larger can be gleaned from them across the sea of years.
To Roger and Jane:
When children are little, mom and dad have to do some things for you. Bathing is one of those activities, as is getting you ready for bed each night. Like most couples who work all day, we did those things with you every night.
The process was the same each night. Fill up the bathtub with warm water, get you undressed, put you in the tub, and throw in a gaggle of bathtub toys. Then soap and shampoo came out, and sometimes you both hated those. You were scrubbed, and your hair rinsed out to get rid of the dirt and grime you had collected that day.
Then it was play time in the water, which was one of your favorite things. We had a ton of bath toys in your bathroom upstairs—rubber ducks, fish, boats, and Little Mermaid things, too. They would all go in the tub, and you would splash away until the water got too cool. Sometimes, you splashed too hard, and water flew out of the tub onto the floor, which would be soaked up with a towel. That was work cleaning up, but it was just a part of the day and things kids do.
Three of the bathroom items I remember (even now) were a yellow rubber duck, Sudley’s Shower, and Obie.
The rubber duck was nothing unique, but it was something you both played with. I want to say at one point years back, you still had it at your mom’s house.
Obie, also known as “Bug Out Bob”, was a squeeze toy, shaped like a bowling pin whose eyes, ears, and nose popped out when you squeezed him hard. Your mom and I would grab him and make some noise, like we were in great pain. You kids would laugh at this, and we would do it over and over again, and then you would laugh some more.
Now Sudley was a plastic elephant head that fit over the shower faucet and supposedly amused the child using it in the tub. It was grayish blue and had a hose with a shower head attached for its snout. I do not remember what prompted us to buy it or if it was a gift, but Roger liked it most. What is funny is that you can still buy a Sudley and an Obie on the web today.
When the playing was done and the water had turned cold, we would pluck you gently out of the tub and dry you off. We put on your pajamas and dried your hair. When it was cold, you both wore pajamas with feet on them to keep you warm—“footies” they were called.
Once you were dressed, it was story time. Story time was fun but its purpose was to get you tired and ready for bed. Like most families, we had a bunch of children’s books. There were the usual titles by authors like Dr. Seuss and the like. But the one that stands out the most after all of these years was Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. It was a fine, little book with soft pastel colors and read with a soothing, gentle cadence. I can still hear myself reading it in my mind with one of you on my lap. “Goodnight moon,” I would quietly say.
After reading books in the rocking chair, it was time for your crib or bed. I would put the book down and gently lay you down. You might still be awake, but I always kissed you good night, told you to sleep tight and have sweet dreams, and told you I loved you. I would cover you up, turn off your light, close your bedroom door, and go downstairs to finish the day with your mom.
That continued until you were each old enough to bathe and dress yourselves. While I think Sudley is gone, your mom still has Goodnight Moon at her house. So one day when you have your own kids, get your own copy of Goodnight Moon—it is still in print— and read it’s quiet, comforting words at the end of the day. When your own kids are on your lap listening to you read, picture you on my lap falling asleep in your warm “footies” by your bed. And maybe a new Sudley and Obie, plus a replacement rubber ducky, will be in the bathroom nearby, ready for the next night’s bath.