One night after a family Sunday supper, my two-year-old princess decided to wear her dessert. Not wanting me to steal her away from the pleasures of licking chocolate syrup from the tablecloth, she bolted. She ran into the bedroom and barricaded the door with her chocolate covered body.

After several minutes of negotiations from under the door, my grandma offered her ninety years of experience to my two-year-old dilemma. I explained to grandma that several weeks ago the princess pooped in the tub and thought it was a snake under the water. She is now terrified of baths.

Mandy and her grandmaGrandma handed me a rubber ducky, “This was yours. Let’s pass it on,” she said. Curiosity unlocked the door and a sticky little hand took the duck.

We drew the bath water and got the princess ready to soak. My grandma told her about bathtime when she was a little girl. They would draw water from the outside well, then heat kettles on the stove to fill the tub with hot water. Sometimes during the hot days of summer, grandma and her siblings would take a bar of soap and bathe in the river near their farm.

Before my eyes a bathtime temper tantrum turned into a cherished memory. If only I could parent like a grandma, possessing such wisdom and tolerance. Perhaps having the ability to see into the future, and know my kids won’t be featured on America’s Most Wanted, would bolster my patience threshold.

My grandma suffered a stroke several years ago. Now bathing herself is one liberty she has lost. It’s extremely hard for a fiercely independent and private person to accept help with personal needs. She doesn’t want to burden family members, and she’s not comfortable with medical personnel. Who is left? Robots don’t mix with water. She finally decided that she would have to train a monkey. I guess they sent a monkey into outer space, why not bathe grandmas.

One day in particular, grandma just couldn’t endure another bath day. Both of us sat at the edge of the tub and cried. Our tear drops must have lured my little princess from her cartoons and banana slices. She appeared in the doorway with her rubber ducky, “To you Gwama,” she said. 
Never underestimate the power of a rubber duck. Never underestimate family members old and young to get you through the tough times. Always value your independence, but don’t turn away from the hands sent to help.

Mandy Sullivan freelance writer/columnist invites you to read about her precarious experiences as a caregiver for multiple generations. So sit back and enjoy a fun read in the only room of the house you can find some peace, even if you have to make a stink to do so! 

© Mandy Sullivan, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mandy Sullivan with appropriate and specific direction to the original cont