Tuesday, August 26, 2008


One of the first things you learn as a parent is that giving a newborn a bath is terrifying. Not something they really explain that well in parenting classes. In those classes you grab a plastic baby and pretend you have a tub full of water and wipe the baby down with a washcloth, all the while rolling your eyes because this is the dumbest exercise in the world.

Then you bring the kid home and you realize you need to bathe the little sucker because he's covered in piss and breast milk.

No biggie, we covered this already. Except they forgot to mention that newborns have no neck muscles. It's like holding a dead chicken. The head just rolls from side to side and you're praying to God that the damn thing doesn't break while you try to maneuver him so you can get at him with the washcloth. Oh and water temperature. What if it's too hot? If it's too cold, will it even get him clean or just piss him off? Soap, won't it like burn through their skin or something? God forbid if you get it in his eyes.

Which actually leads me to the original idea behind this post. Washing a kid's hair is an art and I am Michel-fucking-angelo. I obviously take great pride in my ability to wash my kid's hair without making them cry or scream or crying myself. It's hard, requires patience and a steady diet of boiled eggs and protein shakes.

Why is it important to me? Well, I clearly remember when I was kid having my hair washed by mom and hating it. I used to scream bloody murder and it was the entire reason I hated taking a bath. The first problem was the nails. She would scratch my head and pull at my hair as she tried to scrub my scalp with her finger nails. IT hurt. But as if that wasn't enough, she'd get soap in my eyes. Johnson and Johnson can kiss my ass. Tearless baby shampoo only means there are no baby tears in the bottle, because there are plenty everywhere else.

I'd sit there screaming because my eyes are burning and for my suffering I'd get rewarded either by a swift dunking or a large cup of water poured over my face. Yay, nothing like suffocating to distract you from the fact that their is a cleaning agent in your eyes.

Bath time was traumatic for me. As a result, I'm sensitive to my kid's own hair washing and I take great care to avoid repeating the same mistakes of my mom.

The first trick is the water level. The water level has to be just high enough to cover half their ears, but not be near their eyes. I measure the water level by sticking my hand, fingers extended, into the water and seeing where it comes up to on my hand. I then compare that to my kids head to judge how deep the water should be when they are laying down in it.

I get their hair wet once and then have them sit up while I lather their hair up. The little hairs on the front of their forehead are not important enough to soap up their entire head. You can get a good lather on all of their hair without getting any soap on their forehead.

I don't have claw like fingernails, but I still slowly work in the shampoo. If you try to immediately rub into the scalp, it's going to hurt because the hair is still clumped together. Let the shampoo do its job and the hair will untangle allowing you to get to the scalp without pulling on it.

After the shampoo, I have them lay back down into the water. The second trick is to rinse your hands before you start rinsing their hair. The foam will be all over your hands and you can't avoid getting it in their eyes or dripping into their face unless you rinse your hands first. Once your hands are bubble free, then you can start rinsing their hair. If you pour the water slowly from a cup, it won't flow far from the lip of the cup. So you can pour the water directly on their hair line slowly without getting it into their eyes. It helps if you keep a hand over their eyes to block any water that might roll over the crest of their forehead if they move or you misjudge how quickly you're pouring the water. And that's it. One clean haired kid who'll need one less visit to the therapist.

Oh, you didn't think anyone could possibly put that much thought into washing a kid's hair? Michel-fucking-angelo baby. Michel-fucking-angelo.

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