Even though I haven’t taken a bath since I was a baby, which dates all the way back to the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose bathing habits are classified information, I am now an expert on the subject. That’s because I recently gave a bath to a baby who needed it so badly, after her diaper exploded all over me, that I would have taken one, too, except I couldn’t fit in the sink.
All of this happened at 3 a.m., a time when babies (and their grandfathers) should be sleeping like babies. I would have been except that Zoe and her twin brother, Quinn, woke up hungry, which meant they had to be changed, then fed, then changed again, and again, and again.
In the end, which is where the worst of it came out, a bath was in order.
Before you get to that point, however, you will notice that babies are trained to follow a very strict routine that requires them to go through several diapers, onesies, burp cloths, towels, baby wipes, table pads, bassinet covers and, if they haven’t already been kicked off, socks.
The No. 1 concern is, of course, No. 1, which can soak a diaper so thoroughly that it weighs more than the baby.
This is followed by the No. 2 concern, which is followed by No. 3 (a combination of the first two) and No. 4 (a regurgitation of the entire contents of the bottle, which can burst like lava from the front end of the child and land all over your shirt, pants and, if they haven’t already been kicked off, socks).
If you are in charge of twins, as I was, you have eight concerns. But on this particular night, Zoe outdid her little (by two pounds) brother by emitting approximately two pounds of the aforementioned substances.
Lacking a power washer, which is great for getting baby effluent off the side of the house, I decided to give Zoe a bath.
The first thing I had to do was take off all her clothes. Or I would have if I could fit into them. I’m glad I couldn’t because they didn’t need to be laundered so much as incinerated, but I didn’t want to call the fire department in the middle of the night because: (a) it would have awakened Quinn, who had finally gone back to sleep, and (b) my own clothes were almost as filthy as Zoe’s and would have repulsed even the bravest smoke eater.
I filled the sink with warm water that covered most of the baby tub, which features a mesh seat on which I placed Zoe, who looked up at me with teary eyes as if to say, “Here’s another fine mesh you’ve gotten me into.”
Then she started to squirm. Wet babies and greased pigs are extremely difficult to grasp, although why anybody would want to grease a pig — or change its diaper — is even harder to grasp.
I took a small washcloth, wet it and squirted on some baby wash, which was “pediatrician recommended” and “lightly scented.” Even a pediatrician knows that a light scent can’t mask a heavy one, so I used more soap and worked Zoe into a lather. Her continued squirming worked me into one.
I scrubbed and rinsed her, shampooed her hair and engaged her in baby talk, which I was glad nobody else could hear because Zoe didn’t sound nearly as infantile as I did.
Afterward, I dried her off, dressed her and put her in her bassinet, where she fell fast asleep.
Then it was my turn to come clean. I took off all my clothes and got in the shower. I would have taken a bath, but I ran out of baby wash.
Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Hearst Connecticut Media Group, which includes his hometown paper, the Stamford Advocate. His column is distributed by Tribune News Service of Chicago and has run in newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of four books, Leave It to Boomer, The Empty Nest Chronicles, Grandfather Knows Best and Nini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.