I live in Oakland and work in San Francisco. I also work East Coast hours. One of the main benefits of my work schedule is that nearly every day, I am able to get out of the office by 2 p.m., 2:30 at the latest. My job is such that I am able to leave it behind at work and beat the flood of commuters that flees “The City”, as S.F. calls itself, at the end of the standard work day.
All of this gives me plenty of time to get home and have a couple of hours of peace, quiet and TV to myself before my wife and our three-and-five-year-old daughters come roaring in like a hurricane crossed with the Super Bowl and a dash of the Fourth Of July on top. Or, it would give me that peace, quiet and TV if I wasn’t faced with a daily combination of chores that usually include doing laundry, loading and/or unloading the dishwasher and cleaning up the girls daily morning destruction of our living room. And then there’s getting dinner ready.
Ah, but I do digress. All of that is after work. And the trade-off for getting to leave work as early as I do is that I have to be in my office early. Like six o’clock in the morning early. In order to do that, I have to get up when it’s still dark outside. My alarm is set for 4:15 a.m., which is even too early for my daughters to get up…Except for days like a recent Monday when my three-year-old awoke and walked in on me while I was in the shower.
Now, before you feel the need to bleach out your eyes, let me state categorically that I was doing nothing untoward in the shower. In fact, I had just closed the shower door and was hadn’t even picked up my bottle of Old Spice Sport shower wash when my daughter came toddling in, rubbing her eyes, with hair that would have done Medusa proud, and creaked out my name.
I became very conscious of my situation. And I hoped that the steam that had fogged up the glass on the shower door would be my ally in hiding me from my little girl’s little blue eyes. Instead, she came right up to the door and practically pushed her little face through it. She backed away, I opened the door, as asked her what was going on.
She just stood there, her eyes half-closed and buried behind her hair, not saying a word. After a couple of seconds, she sat down in the middle of the floor. I did the only thing I could think of: I got back in the shower and continued with my routine. I was in the middle of rinsing all the shower wash off when my five-year-old came in, talking non-stop like she always does.
“Daddyisitastayhomeday? Daddycanwegetdonuts? DaddycanyouturnonNetflix?”
The girls started talking to, and tormenting each other, which is pretty damn common in our house. I think sometime in the middle of my shaving, one of them let out a screech of “NO!” I knew I had to cut things short and soon get out in order to prevent them from putting on a very-junior mixed martial arts battle there in the bathroom. I hurriedly finished up, opened the door, reached for my towel, and prepared to dry off. And then my five-year-old, who doesn’t miss much, didn’t miss anything at all:
“OOOOH! DADDY’S NAKED!”
Now, like just about every other dad, I’ve been naked in front of my kids. And about 99.3% of that time was in the bathtub. I used to get in the tub with our five-year-old when it was just her. Part of the reason why was safety. Before she knew how to walk, I got in the tub to bathe her and keep her from drowning. When we had our second daughter, we added her to mix and everyone had a good time splashing and playing in the water. Sometimes, they even got bathed. Back then, they didn’t think about daddy being naked because, well, they were simply too young to realize that I was.
As the girls started getting bigger, and the number of toys in the tub started getting larger, there became less and less room for me. I no longer get in the tub with them. We just throw the kids into the tub and let them battle it out for bathtub supremacy while we try our best to wash them while remaining outside the warzone.
However, now they are at an age where they know what “naked” means. Not just when it comes to bathing, either. I’ll tell them it’s time to get dressed and before I know it, they have run to their room and have stripped faster than a “gentlemen’s club” dancer. And they would probably play around in that state without a stitch of clothing upon their bodies for the rest of the day if we let them.
And unless you belong to some South American tribe living deep In the Amazon Rain Forest, after a certain age, it’s not OK to just run around naked wherever you want and whenever you like. Along those lines, it also eventually becomes improper for you to bathe with your kid, see your kid naked, and for them to see you in the same state. And based on how many of us look as we get older, we should definitely not want our kids to see what years of beer-drinking and McDonalds’s-eating have done to our mid-sections.
But…When is that time? I mean, I have enough common sense to know that I won’t be bathing my daughters when they get to junior high. But even though they are just little kids now, I am beginning to feel a little more conspicuous about things when they are in the tub, or when they walk in on me in the shower.
Oh yes, there will be a time when all this nakedness will go from being cute to being weird. I hope to put an end to it before that point. However, for now, the girls are still too young to bathe alone without my wife and I being in the room out of fear they may scald themselves with the hot water or try to drown each other as they re-enact the Battle of Midway with all their bath toys.
And as far as me in the shower goes, I guess I’ll just have to remember to start locking the door.