It’s sometimes the little things that truly stay with the kids as they age. They might be drawings that you make for them or games that you play and my case, it’s the bathtub songs that helped me work with them through washing.
Kids respond to music and tunes and simply having a small song for something that has to be done "makes the medicine go down" far easier. In my case, I would mess with the kids from when they were babies and I had to wash them in the bathtub and soon developed a series of songs that I sang when a new phase of the job had to happen. There was a ditty about cleaning the bottom, a knock-off of Figaro for the hair-washing, and a Doo-Wop tune for drying off with the towel; these were things that I sang to them each night as I bathed them and only stopped when they were old enough to clean themselves. I haven’t sung them in years as Youngest has long since been able to handle cleaning himself.
Twice in the past week – once in the car and again at dinner tonight – I’ve chatted with the two older kids and found that they can recite and sing the doggerel bathtub songs that I sang to them when they were very young. In the first instance, Middle actually sang harmony as I sang it for him again while driving the other evening. The second occurred at dinner tonight as all three were present and each remembered all of the songs (although Youngest didn’t recall as well, a function of my not bathing him as often as my wife). I was stunned at the laughter as they recounted the tunes and the verses and could only think that it’s the little things.
Kids don’t need all kinds of toys or things, but they do need you. Find something – anything – that you can make your own with them and then do it again, and again, and again. This is what the kids need, and want, more than anything else to connect with you, your time and attention.