“Do you want bubbles, sweet?”
“Yes, please,” replied a voice inside Lillie’s shirt. Her face was stuck in the collar as she pulled the sleeves over her head.
“You okay in there?”
The shirt came off with a grin. “No, I can’t breath, I can’t breath!”
“You one silly girl, Miss Thing.”
I sat by the tub. I took a bottle shaped like Hello Kitty and twisted off the cap. I poured a stream into the running water, producing frothy pink suds. “Yeah! I have to get my Hello Kitties from their house!” Lillie opened the bathroom door and ran naked into the living room.
“Lillie, please,” Collie glanced from his book. “No one wants to see you naked.”
“I don’t care!” she laughed. She wiggled her hips. “Shake your booty! Shake your booty!”
Collie rolled his eyes. “Dad!”
“Lillie!” I called from the bathroom. “Get your kitties and come back to the bath. And just the plastic ones!”
“Okay!” Lillie stooped by a dollhouse and took up her charges, one by one. “Time for your bath, Fashion Kitty. You too, Teacher Kitty. And Mommy Kitty, and Flower Kitty, and . . .”
“Dad!” Collie shouted. “She’s bring naked on purpose just to annoy me.”
“Come on, Lillie, the bubbles are waiting!”
“I don’t care!” She picked up the remaining cats without listing their names, and stood. She began to run to the bathroom, then stopped and looked at her brother. “Shake your booty, shake your booty . . .”
“Lillie, please, let’s get this going!”
“Coming!” she ran down the hall.
“Well, did you get all the kitties?” I asked.
“No, just the ones that needed a bath.” Lillie emptied her arms into the tub. The toys rained down, vanishing into the foam before clunking at the bottom.
“Okay, Lillie. Get in and I will wash your hair, then you can play.”
I doused her hair with water and then scrubbed in shampoo. I worked it to the ends, especially the parts she puts in her mouth.
I nodded to a plastic tray attached to the tile wall. “Do you see that?” I asked. “That’s a new toy. Bath tub crayons!”
“Bath tub crayons?” She looked around. “Is there bath tub paper?”
“No, you can use these to write on the walls, or even on yourself.” I shook the shampoo from my fingers and filled the cup. “They wash off with water.”
“Yeah cool, right? I tried them myself. They are nifty. Now, look up while I rinse your hair.”
“I didn’t even wet your face, you big baby!” I teased, gently patting her eyes with a dry washcloth.
She blinked open her eyes. She looked at the crayons. “Really? On the wall and on me?”
“Really—but just those crayons and just in the bath.” I stood. “Okay, I’m going to finish the dishes. Don’t drown when I’m gone.”
“Dad . . . don’t say that every time.”
“Have fun with the crayons. Knock yourself out.” I peeked around the door. “Oh, and Lillie?”
“Beware . . . “
“Dad . . .”
“Bee-waare . . .” My left hand appeared above my head, the fingers wiggling.
“Dad, that’s your hand!”
“What hand?” I looked up. My eyes bulged. “Oh no, not the . . .” The hand descended on my mouth. My cries were muffled as I was slowly lead away.
“Dad, I know that’s you.”
I popped my head back. “Thank you, thank you. Shows every hour on the hour.” She giggled.
After a few minutes of washing dishes, I came back to check on my daughter. I could hear her talking to herself as I opened the door. “Lillie . . .”
“Ah!” she jumped. “You scared me.”
I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Oh my goodness, Lillie!”
“You said I could write on the walls.”
“I know, it’s fine, but . . . my goodness!” Lillie had covered the tiles with drawings and words. Her limbs were decorated like Goldie Hawn in her “Laugh In” bikini.
On the walls, I detected a theme. A brown circle containing black dots was labeled “cookie.” A brown oval was labeled “poop.” Underneath was written, “See the diference.”
“That’s very handy,” I said, snapping my fingers. “Now people will know the difference between cookies and poop.”
“I know!” she laughed. “And did you read my beautiful, beautiful poem?” She held out an arm, indicating a stream of sentences written in brown. I read it out loud.
How I love you poop
Poop is good for you
“Well, it’s a splendid poem, honey. And it’s sure full of poop.”
She guffawed, then stopped. “Wait, you are.” She laughed again.
“All right, funny girl, let’s get you toweled off. It’s time for Collie’s shower.”
“Okay, but make him leave my poem.”
“Okay, up you go.” I held up a towel. Lillie stood and stepped from the tub into it. She chatted and chatted as I brushed her hair, listening and listening.
Collie was not amused by the poem, but he let it stay. It remained intact for a few days. Finally, it had to go. “Lillie, I have to clean the bathroom, so come say goodbye to ‘Poop.’”
“It’s ‘O Poop,’ not ‘Poop.’ Wait, I want to write it down.” Lillie took a paper and pencil from my desk. She hurried down the hall. She knelt on the bathroom floor. Using the side of the tub as her desk, she looked up and copied the poem onto paper.
Her tongue flicked at her teeth as she wrote. “Okay, I’m done,” she said. “Now I have to save it.” She rushed to her closet, and pulled down a box. Inside the box was a purple doll’s purse. She put everything on the bed. With great care, she folded the paper again and again, until it could fit in the purse. She placed the purse inside the box, and returned the box to her closet. She tucked it under her t-shirts.
“That looks safe, all right,” I said.
“I have to hide it,” she said. Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Mom doesn’t let me say ‘poop.’”
“Oh,” I whispered back. “I didn’t know.”
“Yeah,” she whispered.
“Okay,” I whispered.
“Dad?” she whispered.
“Why are we whispering?” she laughed.
Tonight, after Lillie’s bath, I discovered two texts on my bathroom walls, mostly in lower case and with Lillie’s characteristic backwards “s.” Each word was limited to one tile. The words were in red and blue.
On one wall, she had written:
and we love
kissing and unacorns and
pink we love girls
and cute stuf
On the adjacent wall, there was this:
we love Hello Kitty
and hate boy stuf
and in love with girls
and really hate boys
this is by Lillie
No mention of poop.
I thought I might leave it on the walls for a bit.
Collie thought otherwise. It did not survive his shower.
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