“It’s not my fault we’re in this situation,” indignated DS1. (I know ‘indignated’ isn’t a word, but I think it should be where DS1 is concerned.)

Well, whose fault is it then? I didn’t bother asking him, I knew the answer: mine.

We’d been having our weekly battle about having a shower. He wouldn’t have one. And here we were, sat on his bed, well past his bedtime, with him unwashed and still in his clothes

We’d reached a stalemate – just like Brexit, I couldn’t get a deal through parliament (DS1).

Instead, I just burst out laughing at his preposterous statement. This seemed to clear the air, but didn’t solve the problem. I’d lost the battle, but the war will, no doubt, rage on.

Cut to a couple of weeks later. The boy had returned from a three-day camping trip with the school – he was filthy, his face covered in camouflage paint.

The trouble was it was Friday and this wasn’t a scheduled shower night – so there was no way he was having one.

All the reasoning in the world couldn’t drag him into the bathroom. He was tired and understandably fractious after holding himself together on the trip.

He’d taken part in all the activities, eaten well (even foods he wouldn’t normally touch with a barge pole) and generally had a great time – according to his teachers anyway. He wouldn’t tell us anything about it, obviously.

So, we left the shower issue, not wanting to have an argument on his first night back home, resolving to rectify the situation the following day.

Who were we kidding?

Wipe out

The next day, unsurprisingly, he dug his heels in – he didn’t need a shower because he wasn’t dirty. His face, I pointed out, said otherwise. He disagreed.

He was still shattered, understandably. So we left him to chill and get himself back on an even keel.

He didn’t want to go anywhere – the suggestion of going to the school summer fair was met with a resounding “No!” To be fair, it does every year.

By the evening, though, he seemed to be returning his normal, more amenable, self.

An offer to go out to our local tapas establishment that evening with his best mate’s family was readily accepted. There was a condition, however – he had to wash.

Queue meltdown, as we chased him around the house armed with wet wipes (we’d long since given up on using actual soap and water).

The wife pretended to message our friends to say that we wouldn’t be coming because DS1 wouldn’t have a shower, in the hope that this would stir him into some cleaning action. It didn’t.

“It won’t come off,” he screamed, as we managed random strikes with the wet wipes. “They don’t do anything.”

“They will, if you let us actually wipe it off!”

“It won’t come off,” he insisted.

“Then we don’t go to the restaurant,” I said.

“I’m going,” he shouted, opening the front door. “I’ll go on my own. And you’re not coming!”

“You’re not.”

He was out of control, tears were rolling down his face and he was screaming at the injustice of it all. Doors were slamming. Walls were being headbutted in frustration by an irate parent (me, obviously).

Eventually, we managed to hold him down long enough to wipe most of the camouflage dirt away (still under much protest), so that it didn’t look like he had just come up from a coal mine. Now, we could at least go out without being charged with neglect of a minor. Or should that be miner?

“It’s not made any difference,” he wailed.

The dirt on the pile of discarded wet wipes suggested otherwise.

A semblance of calm restored, we got set to leave.

“You’re not coming,” he maintained, loudly.

Bad timing

Cut to the following day. Sunday. A dedicated shower night. As the fateful hour approached, I went out into the garden, where he was playing football, and with some trepidation informed him it was 7.30 and therefore shower time.

“But we’ve got ages until bedtime,” he insisted. “It will only take 15 minutes [to have a shower], including the arguing.”

“I’ve allowed 30 minutes for that,” I replied.

“No,” he asserted. “We won’t need that long.”


  • Jo

    I’ve read every one of your 100 posts, Phil. Congratulations on reaching your century. And congratulations, too, to DS1 for holding himself together for three days on the camping trip.

    I smiled at the end. He has a sense of humour!

    • Phil Clisby

      You’ve read all of them? You deserve a medal.


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