Wednesday, February 28, 2007

When do we redo the bathroom?

If you've been to our house recently (and why haven't you? It's not like Pittsburgh moved any further away on the map, after all....) you've seen the newly added space and renovated main floor. But perhaps you've also noticed that the bathroom at the top of the steps is a shambles. Peeling wallpaper, worn-out flooring and cabinetry, exposed drywall. Why would we have spent so much time and effort working on the rest of the house only to ignore the current fate of the upstairs bathroom?

Simple answer: Kids are slobs.

The girls are at an age of growing household independence. That means going to the bathroom by themselves, brushing their teeth by themselves, and washing up by themselves. Unfortunately, it seems the concepts of gravity and fluid dynamics don't really sink in until later in life.

Let's take a simple process like washing hands. Typically you and I would turn on the water, wet our hands, almost unconsciously shake our hands off enough to avoid getting water on the counter as we go for the soap pump, and grab a squirt of soap cupped in our hands neatly. Then, we wash up, towel off, and perhaps wipe a few drips off the counter top.

To a small child, the bathroom sink is an open-year-round version of Splash Lagoon. As a kid, you wash your hands by first turning the hot and cold faucets on at full blast, spraying water everywhere. Then, after getting your hands good and soaked, you reach for the soap with princess-like flair, perhaps waving to yourself in the mirror first with a wink and a smile, making little heart-shaped smears with the water droplets that hit the mirror. Eventually you pound the soap pump with a wet fist, maybe hitting your palm with the shot of soap but more likely hitting the counter top, the baseboard, the door, and the window. As you bring your now perhaps soapy hands back toward the sink, you play with that little line of soap that suspends itself between your hands and the pump like so much piping hot pizza cheese, allowing a line of slickness to form across the counter. Finally, after rinsing off, you splash around in the bubbles gathered in the sink bowl, wave hi to yourself in the mirror again, and turn off the faucet with soggy sandwich clamps, only barely having rinsed them enough to get the soap slime off. Then, it's across the room (via the measurement marks on the back of the door to see if you've grown any in the past month) and to the hand towel, leaving a spray of drops on the wallpaper as you go. The used towel hits the floor, to be picked up by an exhausted guardian at a later opportunity.

Add toothpaste to the equation, or bath soap, or toilet paper, and you can see my point. No, I'm thinking that bathroom gets done when they're both off to college.

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