Bathtime, Under The Frog


Our child has decided that she doesn’t like bathtime any more. For a while, she would get upset at one bath in every three, and then she she seemed to grow reconciled to being bathed, and only howled at the end, after she had been soaped and rinsed, as if the worst thing in the world was a dry towel. But for the last week or so, the whole concept of a bath has turned her into a squirming ball of abject rage, constantly trying to climb out of the bath before we can start to sluice her.

And you’re not allowed to turn a hose on a child under a year old. I’ve checked.

I’m not sure what has provoked this change. Is it a standard developmental milestone, or is she extra specially awkward? We don’t want her to associate water with being in a rage, because that won’t exactly help with swimming, but it’s hard to see how to make bathtime a happy occurrence for her. We’ve tried letting her sit by the side of the bath and play with the water, but this also doesn’t seem to be something she enjoys.

What she does enjoy is crawling inside the shower cubicle in the morning, when she’s clean and not coated with an inch-thick layer of food. Either she’s being wilfully contrary, or there’s something about the mop hanging up in there that she really likes.

Still, the caterwauling from La Serpiente Negra never lasts too long, and then she’s put to bed. At the moment, half a chapter of Tibor Fischer’s Under The Frog and she’s asleep. I don’t know what it is about Booker-nominated first novels about living under Communism in Hungary do for her, but it must be something she likes.

Under The Frog is funny, but horrific in parts, and just as when I reread The Great Gatsby, I keep noticing different things that I’m amazed I didn’t see before. This time round, it’s the paedophile sports coach (that staple of the Eastern bloc athletic system, apparently) that stands out as inappropriate bedtime reading for a ten month old. Last time I read it, it was the horribly sad ending that surprised me. After all, when I read it as a teenager, it was just a comic novel about a recently dismantled Communist country. Last time through, it was almost unbearably sad. This time, I just don’t know how it will turn out.

As for what’s next, it’s either going to be another Tim Powers book, Anubis Gates, or The Great Gatsby. A few years before she gets Spot The Dog.

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