The Ex-Files – The Bath

When my daughter was about 3 and I was pregnant with my son, I was running a Day Care in our home. CP wasn’t working (what else is new, right?) and I was bringing in enough money to keep the family fed and keep the electricity on. I had to put aside money each week to make the rent each month. Things were extremely tight.

While I was wrangling 5-7 kids Monday through Friday, from sometimes 6am to 6pm, CP was off visiting (or shootin’ the shit, as he called it) with his cousins. I was exhausted at the end of the day! He would come home and go to bed, sometimes without dinner, as if he was exhausted. So many nights I wanted to coldcock him upside the head with a frying pan while he slept. But that’s just not who I am. I mean, who the hell would take care of my kids if I went to prison for murder? But I digress…

One Saturday morning, I figured I’d better go get some groceries with the week’s pay because I was going to have one of my Day Care kids on Sunday morning for most of the day. My daughter wanted to stay home and her “Pop” was home so why couldn’t he watch her for an hour or so? He agreed although I’m sure he would rather be doing something else. Before I left, I asked him specifically to please not let SR play in the dirt because she just had a bath the night before. I didn’t think he needed any further explanation and he didn’t ask for one either. I left after telling SR to save the playing in the dirt for another day.

I was gone maybe an hour and a half. About the time I had finished lugging the groceries in, CP and SR came inside from the backyard. She was covered in mud. She had dirt in her hair. She was wearing semi-decent clothes that were now covered in filth. I was pissed off, to say the least.

I asked CP why he let her play in the dirt when I asked him not to. He said, “She wanted to play in the dirt and I didn’t see any harm in it.” And then he added, “I made a decision as her father.” To that I replied, “Well, since YOU are her father and YOU let her play in the dirt when I asked you not to, then YOU can give her a fucking bath!” I also explained the reason for not wanting her in the dirt was because I was exhausted and didn’t want to deal with a bath since it was my only day off that week from Day Care. He acted like I was over-reacting and that a bath wasn’t that big of a deal.

I was busy fixing dinner while he was giving SR a bath. I thought it was going smoothly, but then I heard crying. I heard CP talking sternly and then SR cried more…and then more. I stayed out of it though. I wanted HIM to take care of this. I was sick and tired of always being the one to take care of everything!

Soon SR came out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her and streaks of muddy water running down her face. She had gobs of shampoo still in her hair; it was all sudsy and muddy. I asked CP, “Why didn’t you finish washing her hair?” He angrily said, “I washed it but she wouldn’t let me rinse it so she can just sit in it and suffer.” He walked away. Dumbass, I thought. I took SR back into the bathroom, ran clean bathwater, and started over. Oh, I turned dinner off and decided that CP can just starve. I’ll make SR a sandwich or something after her bath. Screw dinner.

Image by Eduardo Davad from Pixabay

In the tub, SR was crying. I told her, “It’s ok Baby Girl. Momma will get the soap out and get you all cleaned up.” SR kept crying and saying she was sorry. I told her again, “It’s ok, Baby Girl. Pop just doesn’t know how we do it, that’s all.” She was very cooperative when washing and rinsing hair. You just have to use your brain. The way I did it was with a big cup that was always in the tub specifically for that use. I’d tell SR to “look up at the birdie” as if there was a bird up on the ceiling. She’d look up and I’d remind her to keep looking up at that birdie, as I used the cup to pour water over her hair. My hand placed upon her forehead along the hairline helped guide the water back instead of towards her face. Easy peasy. That’s how the momma does it. A washcloth quickly run over her face at the end, finished the process and she was happy as the invisible birdie on the ceiling.

After my son was born and I was still in the hospital recovering from a C-section, I had to depend on CP to take care of SR. I knew that wasn’t going to go over well with SR but I had no choice. Since my C-section was planned, I was able to make sure SR had a bath the night before, and that pajamas and clothes were laid out. I knew she’d want to come see momma and her baby brother. The morning after my surgery, in comes CP with SR and she was a mess. Her hair and teeth hadn’t been brushed. She had pancake syrup on her face. She was in the clothes she had on the day before, which were covered in dirt. That fucker let her play in the dirt again! He didn’t bathe her. He didn’t put pajamas on her! He just stuck her in her clean bed even though she and her clothes were filthy. I couldn’t do anything about it because I was in no shape to do anything major for at least a week. His excuse was that she was too tired for a bath, and fell asleep before he could clean her up and put her pajamas on her. That morning, she wanted to come see momma and the baby. He told her they’d come after breakfast so after breakfast they came! He didn’t even bother to wash breakfast off of her face or change her clothes. I mean, come on!

I never, ever again asked CP to give either of our kids a bath. I never expected him to do anything regarding the care of our children. I saved myself a lot of work just doing things myself. I learned along the way that the old saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself,” is absolute truth.

A Glimpse Into The Past and Father’s Day

As you must know by now, my Dad is my best friend. He’s been the glue that keeps things moving smoothly, the comic relief, and the man who helped me raise my kids when their own father couldn’t be bothered to even write or call.

Dad and I haven’t always been close. That wasn’t his choice, nor mine. I know people get sick of the blame always being placed upon the mother, but in this case it was definitely my mother’s fault.

When I was a little girl, my mother pretty much had me scared to death of my Dad. She would comment things like, “Don’t let your Dad hear you say that,” or “Better clean up that mess before your Dad gets home.” She always ended those warnings with remarks about being spanked or sent to my room. I don’t recall my bedroom ever being messy. I remember Dad sometimes working overtime and not being home for dinner. In order to get me to finish everything on my plate, Mom would warn me of the consequences if I didn’t finish by the time Dad came home. Often she gave me portions that I’m positive were too big for my little tummy. I was a scared little girl.

When I was a little older, Mom kept me in line much the same way. She always made Dad out to be the bad guy. One time I was 5 minutes late from walking home from school and she told me how lucky I was that Dad wasn’t home! I remember running home from school many times after that to avoid the wrath of my father. Of course, Dad was never the authoritarian meany-head Mom made him out to be.

When I was around 12 or 13 years old, I wanted to start shaving my legs and Mom showed me how but told me, “Just don’t tell your Dad. He’ll be mad as hell.” And when I started wearing makeup, I sneaked it because I knew what she would say. I would buy a little makeup with my babysitting money and put it on when I got to the bus stop in the mornings, and took it off on the bus on the way home from school.

I could go on with more examples but you get the idea. There was a lot of manipulation going on.

Dad and I became closer as I entered adulthood. Somehow, Mom knew then that she couldn’t do what she had always done. She had lost her control. Once she left us (her family) behind and left the state, things began to change. I don’t know how anyone could be afraid of my Dad. I don’t know how I could have ever been so afraid of him. It just goes to show you how impressionable small children are. Dad was never anything but fun and funny – if you can visualize a 6-foot tall man riding a tricycle, then you’ll get a good idea of what I mean.

Dad is much older now, 83 and counting. He’s been a great Dad even when Mom made him out to be strict and mean. He’s been there for me when shit has hit the fan full force, and has been there for my kids as they were growing up. I don’t know what I would have done without him.

For Father’s Day this year, I collected funds from my children, my sisters, I threw in my share, and purchased a pole chain saw for Dad. I had extra funds so I also added a battery and charger for the pole saw. He won’t use a regular chain saw anymore. He’s wise enough to know that it would be dangerous for an 83 year old man who sometimes loses his balance to use one. A pole saw is a bit safer since a stumble would result in the saw part landing further away from him. He just needs to remove some tall bushy limbs off some shrubs and trees around the house. Nothing real major. I will keep an eye on him like I always do.

To end the day, my son, his wife and little boy came to visit. They brought wine. Dad loves wine. The Hudster (my grandson) warmed up to us quite nicely. He doesn’t see us often so prior to this visit, he was a bit leery of us. Dad and I both got hugs and The Hudster was playful and silly. I enjoyed the visit as much as Dad did. Dad loves playing with little kids, always has. I hope he has many years left to play!

Take care of your fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and all the father figures in your life. They have shaped the person you’ve become. You won’t have them forever. Treasure the stories and the memories. Happy Father’s Day, to all the great fathers out there and especially to my Dad – the BEST FRIEND and FATHER a daughter could ever have!

Dad, as a young man fresh out of high school. Age 18.
Dad and baby me… He was making me laugh way back then!
Dad, 2020, age 83.

Throwback Thursday

I was going through some old photos I took when my granddaughter was little. I stumbled across these; my favorites in a sequence. They are a bit out of focus but you can still see the humor behind them. Starting top/middle/bottom, moving left to right: These photos show little Daph squeezing between the chair and side table, getting stuck, waiting patiently or thinking how she would get out, and then finally the look as if to plea with Grandma to help her out of this predicament and stop taking photos!

Throwback Thursday

Ah, memories of the old days… My cousin and I were probably about 5 or 6 so I’d say this was around the late 60’s.

Top and center photos: My cousin, Lyn and I were best buds. (I’m the terd with the darker hair.)

Bottom photo: It looks like my Aunt Helen (Lyn’s mom) is doing my mom’s hair. My mom looks thrilled, doesn’t she? They may just be getting drunk, who knows? Papa, (my dad’s dad) looks on. I wonder what he’s thinking.

The Ex-Files – Cleaning It Won’t Make It Work Better

Have you ever known someone who didn’t like it when you cleaned something? For some odd reason, CP couldn’t stand it when I cleaned certain things. It could be just about anything and I suppose it was probably all based on the mood he was in.

One time, I had some free time for cleaning because my Day Care kids were on Spring vacation with their families. I was sick and tired of looking at the pile of pennies on the top of CP’s dresser so I decided to put them in a big green vase that was sitting there empty serving no purpose. I dusted the dresser top and put his stupid little knick-knacks (a key, a carabiner, a rusty bolt, a button) back where they were. His brush and comb were put back in exactly the same spot they were, as well. But those blasted pennies – a huge mound of them – were in the big green vase. CP practically had a freakin’ meltdown. “What’s wrong with where they were?” he asked. “What’s wrong with them being in the vase?” I retorted. “I just don’t understand why it was necessary,” he complained. I said, “And I don’t understand what your aversion to things being clean is.” He didn’t speak to me for hours. He pouted and sat outside drinking beer like a big ol’ cry baby.

It was always something. He could have a problem with how I cleaned something or when I cleaned something. It could be the laundry or the kitchen floor. It could be just about anything! One of the things he used to say was, “Why clean it? It’s just going to get dirtied up again.” Really. I guess I should have never cleaned the toilet since it was just going to get dirtied up again. Dumb ass.

Another time, I decided to take the fans apart and clean the blades. He came home from wherever the hell he was before I had finished. You’d think I was doing something wrong by the way he acted. “What are you doing?” he asked. I said, “I’m cleaning the blades.” What I wanted to say was, “What the hell does it look like I’m doing?” I didn’t because that would have made it an even bigger issue. He asked, “Why are you cleaning the blades?” I said, “Because they’re dirty!” “Cleaning them isn’t going to make them work any better,” he insisted. I said, “Yes, they will. The weight of all the crud stuck on the blades has to have an effect on how well they work,” I explained. I was always having to explain myself to him. I went on, “And they look better if they’re clean!” He just grinned at me, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “They aren’t going to work better, Deb.” I was pissed now because he was patronizing me. I asked him, “Do you have something against things being clean?” He started to speak but I was angry so I cut him off. “If you do then I won’t clean anything in this house ever again and if you don’t then I’d advise you to just let me do whatever the hell I want because it’s not hurting you one damn bit!” By then I had the last fan put back together and I left the room to put it back in the bedroom.

Too bad we didn’t have the internet and Google back then. I would have gladly looked it up and shown him that, according to Bob Vila, “the fan grill and blades can suck in and amass a fair amount of dirt and dust, making your fan work less efficiently. Regular cleaning of your oscillating fan with inexpensive supplies is the best way to keep microscopic intruders at bay and keep your fan operating in peak condition.” But isn’t it just common sense??

gray round floor fan

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