What is it with kids and hygiene? WHY, is it SO hard? You'd think after 10-12 years of being alive and living in a home where baths, brushing teeth and washing hands are repeated daily, that eventually these things would become habit and something instilled in their brains, kind of like eating and sleeping. Something that they do involuntarily, without thinking, plus with all girls, I guess I foolishly thought they would automatically WANT to be clean and pretty. Apparently not!
Anyways, I consistently have to argue with my girls about how long it's been since they washed their hair or how in tarnation they could have possibly gotten their entire bodies clean in a 20 second shower. I've found it amazing too, that my "mom" brain has perfected its ability to hear if someone has A. flushed the toilet and B. washed their hands. Also, believe or not, most times I can determine if they used soap or not when washing their hands, strictly based on the amount of time I hear the water running.
My "mom" brain is also quite good at detecting lies, so when I ask my 5 year old the usual questions after she uses the restroom, like "did you flush," "did you wash your hands," and the final "did you use soap," I always know when she's trying to pull a fast one on me. It typically goes like this. I ask, "Did you wash your hands?" She replies, "Yes." I ask, "Did you use soap?" She answers, "Yes." I ask again, "Are you sure you used soap?" She yells, "YES!" I demand, "Then, let me smell your hands!" She says, "Fine. I'll go wash them with soap." Then she slumps back to the bathroom, defeated by her cunning mom.
But I ask myself, why didn't she just use soap? She's been taught to use soap her whole life. She has to use soap at home, at school, at church, wherever we're at but yet she tries to sneak out without taking 10 extra seconds to wash with soap. Like rinsing your hands with cold water really cleans anything. Yuck! I don't even like to think of all the times my kids go the bathroom and just rinse with water without me knowing it. Eeesh! Think I'll just pretend that doesn't happen.
As far as their showers go, apparently my girls feel that 20-30 second showers are adequate enough to fully clean ones body AND wash a massive head of hair. My hairdresser will attest that my girls are blessed with an exhorbinant amount of hair. Therefore, I'm convinced that 30 seconds in the shower can, in no way, sufficiently clean their whole head, as well as adequately clean their bodies. They're not fooling me at all when they waltz down the stairs with wet heads and clean pajamas claiming, "I'm done." They try to convince me that they "handled" it in that short 30 seconds, but I remind them that kids that don't do a good job of cleaning themselves end up in the doctor's office with bad, embarrassing diseases. Okay, I admit, it's really a threat to scare them, I don't really know that about bad diseases for sure, but if it gets them to spend a little time scrubbing up, then so be it.
Hence, going back to my question, why isn't this cleaning thing just automatic? Haven't I taught them how to take care of themselves? Making them take baths and brush teeth every day of their lives means nothing to them at this point. Maybe they'll grow into the idea that being clean and smelling good is a plus and something others enjoy being around. That is my hope. But in the meantime, continues my daily, repetitive nag, "Have you showered? Have you brushed your teeth? Did you wash your hands? Did you use soap?"