In the bad old days, my sister lived in a falling-apart trailer that was built in 1974. She bought it for eighteen dollars the day after we graduated, from a friend’s mom who didn’t want to pay to have it towed away when she got a new place. It had busted windows on the East side, the wood stove door consisted of tinfoil, the water pipes froze and burst every winter, and when the power went out because of the wind storms, the trailer court was the last place in the county to get it back.
When I moved in with her, my sister Kali and the Dork-In-Law had just started trying to have another baby. My eldest Godson Dozer was two years old, small for his age, and had waist-length, chestnut ringlets. He looked like a little Brian Froud child.
He also loved the bath. When he didn’t get one at exactly the moment he wanted, he would dump whatever sort of semi-liquid was to hand over his head. This included but was not limited to:
- cereal milk
- cooled ramen broth
- cat water
- lotion that he would climb to reach
- liquid hand soap
So, of course when the power got knocked out and the pipes froze during a January windstorm, what did he do?
Well, folks, he lay in wait under the crack in his door (similar to his possum-hissing procedure) until his mother went into the kitchen to do dishes, broke into her room, climbed the counter in the bathroom with the working shower, and emptied a bottle of nair into his lovely mane and onto the floor.
“It’s too quiet.”
“That means the kid is up to something.” A moment later, there was a bloodcurdling shriek from the master bedroom, as my sister discovered what her darling offspring had done.
Now, the solution to this problem ought to have been simple: Run the kid’s head under warm water until the toxic crap is out of his hair and pray that chunks of it don’t come out.
The reality of the situation was that no warm water was to be had, and that we had been hoarding water in the bathtub for use because we were on WEEK TWO of no running water.
The procedure went like this: Every morning before I went to work and every evening when I came home from school, Kali and I would fill the recycle bins with empty coffee cans, put them in the back of my Honda CR-V, crank the Immigrant Song, and go to the laundromat, where we would fill up the containers using the hand-wash sink. We would then each light a smoke, drive back to the trailer court, and empty all but two containers into the bathtub. The rest would be heated up on the woodstove for cool stuff like warming up the kid’s milk, cooking, and washing faces and hands. Showers were taken elsewhere.
Because our household was on Week Two, we had this drill down pat. It also meant that the only way to wash the kid at two-thirty in the afternoon was with the cold bathwater.
There was never a more horrid sound uttered by a human child as that tantrum.
And who could blame him?
I’d scream bloody murder if someone threw me into an ice-cold tub followed by a rat-sized clump of my hair coming off, too.
Short and long of it: Mom bawled and the kid wound up with a burr. This put a stop to him dumping things on his head.
Now, both Dozer and Demonic still sport short hair. They’ve each rocked a mohawk, blue and green hair, and Dozer’s currently got this Europe-video thing going on:
He’s none the worse for wear (with the exception of a permanent cowlick) and my sister is mostly over it…Mostly.