‘Dakika abich msichana‘ (5 minutes girl), I tell my daughter for the 3rd time.
Every night. Every single night, we do this dance:
I strip her down.
I put toothpaste on her brush and give it to her.
I chase her around the house as she brushes and runs (naked).
I bring her back.
I finish up brushing her teeth.
I put her in the tub.
I pour the soap in.
I move my hand around to create the bubbles. She has already asked ‘Mama, buoyo‘ (mama, bubbles) even before I have a chance to pour the soap in.
I bathe her.
I tell her ‘watieko‘ (we’re done) she responds ‘NO’.
I have anticipated this (I am a woman who plans ahead) and so leave her to soak as I sit on the stool outside to read my book. I tell her ‘dakika abich mama‘ and she says, ‘ata‘ (OK).
I wait the aforementioned 5 minutes (I am a very patient woman). I ask ‘itieko?‘ (are you finished?).
Inevitably, I get a very emphatic ‘Nooooo’ said with a tiny splash of bubbles my way.
‘Ok, dakika abich kendo?’ (OK, 5 more minutes?) I ask.I am already turning the page in my book.
She nods her head and continues smearing the bubbles on her torso, legs and hair.
After the next 5 minutes, I put the book away, Kendi says, ‘Nooooo.’
I announce ‘OK, msichanna, itieko koro‘ (OK, girl, you’re done now)
She repeats ‘Noooooo’ and now the mouth starts to tip.
The bottom lip starts to move forward and down.
The top lip begins to purse.
The bottom lip is now trembling.
The eyes are getting watery (and not because of the bath).
The legs are starting to kick (I haven’t even lifted her out of the water yet).
She is yelling, ‘Nooooo, mama, Noooooo.’
I have picked her up.
I have to get a good grip- she is wet, she is smooth (all those bubbles) and she is kicking, fiercely.
I manage to hold on to her.
I am speaking in a gentle tone, ‘It’s OK mama, koro wadhi nindo. Ere Ogi? Idwaro Ruff?‘ (We are going to sleep now. Where’s Ogi? Do you want Ruff?) -Ogi and Ruff are her comfort toys.
I am trying to placate.
I am bribing.
I am now threatening ‘Kendi, stop it.’
I am carrying the wet baby only half covered (it is difficult to cover a kicking baby with one hand)
We are walking to the bedroom.
She is screaming.
I am screaming.
The cat is running around like a mad animal.
She is on the changing table ‘Mama, ma! ma!’ I give her Ogi, she quiets down.
We are back in business.
Until tomorrow. Lord please give me strength. I can’t do this for long. I have a bad back!