My four-year-old would not wash her hands. It was dinnertime. Food was getting cold. We were all hungry. And tired. We asked nicely. We asked not so nicely. We told. Then the inevitable threat, rendered less effective as an interrogative sentence.
“Do you want to go the stairs?”
Still, the hands remained unwashed. They were visibly dirty. Playground equipment. Three-day-old rain water. Probably some nose-picking. I imagined the bacteria singing a high-pitched, prokaryotic version of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise.” Good times.
That’s when I made a fatal error.
I was fun.
Both the Blue Soap and the Clear Soap wanted to be chosen. They started to argue.
“No, pick me!”
Mia, despite her four years of worldly experience and skills as a negotiator, didn’t see this coming. She did “eeny meeny miny mo.” Clear Soap won. Blue Soap threw a fit. Then, to show her deep compassion for losers that never get picked, she allowed Blue Soap to do her right hand and Clear Soap to do her left.
Problem solved. Until the next night. And the night after that. And every night. Because now we have to play the soap game before washing hands. And I don’t really mind. The soaps argue. Or Blue Soap falls asleep and then the spatula wakes him up, to the dismay of Clear Soap. It’s fun.
Except of course, when you just want to wash hands and eat.
So the lesson here, parents, is obvious. Never do anything remotely fun or interesting.