So, I saw this article on Facebook yesterday: http://www.greenlifestylechanges.com/bathe-your-children-less-often
And it made me think of my life in Poland.
Part of the article states that when an infant or child is small, they technically don’t get too dirty-therefore, “Go Green—er and bathe less!”
I had to honestly giggle.
Not because of the Go Green theme. I mean, it’s great to do what we can to preserve our environment.
Shoot. In junior high, I was Miss Passionate about Saving the World! So much so that a friend and I marched ourselves one mile down the road to our local McDonald’s and demanded that they stop using Styrofoam boxes for the Big Macs we wanted to purchase.
Sure enough, within that same week, they started serving the Big Macs wrapped in paper. I guess paper later became boxes. And, to be honest, the Big Macs have never stayed as hot, eh? Bummer.
But this article about bathing your infant less.
It really made me giggle.
You see, in Poland, we heat with coal. Not only is our house heated with coal-but our water is heated with coal.
That means we get 5-minute intervals of hot water approximately every hour and a half.
Which means—luxury and long showers. Well, they are non-existent. Believe me. When that 5 minutes is up, your pleasantly steaming shower experience turns Arctic real fast! Brrrrr…completely ruining your previous minute.
My daughter, where we live in our village in Poland, has never been able to fill her bathtub up all the way. It gets about a quarter full before the hot water runs out. When it’s REALLY cold in the winter, we make her more hot water on the stove-we boil it in a big soup pot and our tea pot. And then we add more water (yep, the cold water) and then we pour the hot water (nope-she’s not in there when we’re trying to prepare for her bath), and, eventually, voile! She has a decent-sized bath with approximately the right amount of warm water.
And she can splash and play…Well, that is, until it’s our turn to take our baths.
You see…If we don’t go all cowboy and old fashioned, then we have to wait ourselves another hour and a half for the hot water tank to refill to take a 5-minute bath.
Therefore, in our home, in our village, in Poland, we have learned quite well the expression of the idiom, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!”
But, don’t worry, Maxwell, once he came along, always got his bath first. We used just enough water to get him wet. After he was done, we added a bit more for Adelyne. Then it was my turn. Lastly Rich.
So I guess the idiom in our house was more like, “Don’t throw daddy out with the bath water!”
I know. All of this, if you live in the United States, especially, sounds odd. Or if you live in a part of the world with large hot water tanks or a place where your hot water is heated via your radiator or gas.
But that’s not where we live. And we have learned to Go Green—but not on purpose.
And not only have we had to learn—but any house guests we have had receive instructions upon arrival.
When my sister brought her family to Poland for our foundation’s 10-year-anniversary, they all crashed at our house. Boy it was a fun and full house. But when you get 5 minutes of hot water every hour and half, that means that the shower situation with 12 people in our house got a little tricky.
My sister, you see, has the cleanest kids in America.
If you don’t believe me, here’s their picture:
Which means that in Poland she desperately tried to keep her tradition of “clean” alive. And, I must say, impressively so!
She had those kids hopping in and out of a quick shower like they were a bunch of little Speedy Gonzales’ === shower style!
Which means—each day, her kids started fresh while mine. Well, let’s just say, that I learned long ago that mine just get to be…Not fresh. Real.
And it’s a big family joke. Now that we’re in the States for a while, my sister and sister-in-law will laugh when they hear this conversation between me and Adelyne, “Adelyne, go take your shower.”
Adelyne to me, “But, Mom! I just took a shower yesterday!”
And I shrug my shoulders. Good point. She can’t be THAT dirty in a day, right?
And Darby and Jenny (my sister and sister-in-law) die. And their children walk squeaky clean out to see what the fuss is all about—Adelyne’s daily shower. Or not!
It’s not because my mom didn’t raise me to shower my babies. Please. When we went camping. Camping…my mom still bathed us EVERY NIGHT! We were probably the cleanest campers around. And we didn’t even have port-a-potties nearby. It was real camping, folks. And yet we were still clean each and every night before bed.
How is it, then, that I have such a squeaky clean family and such a nonchalant spirit about my own?
I tell you, when you begin to stoke your own coal furnace day in and day out, 50 pound bags, 3 at a time until it’s time to stoke again. Well, you begin to realize that 5 minutes of hot water every hour and a half is quite the luxury.
And sometimes you curse the coal.
Believe me. When that coal furnace went out on me in the middle of winter while my husband was in sunny Arizona, I cursed not only the furnace and the coal, I’m pretty sure I was cursing my husband too. I tried burning furniture. But then when it got down to the fact that I would have to burn my kitchen chairs next, I decided that instead of going completely rouge like that, I better stop burning and just exit the house. So I grabbed Adelyne and we went to, surprise, McDonald’s for the rest of the day. Perhaps even 8 hours.
Eventually, we did have to return. To a home. Where it was -15F outside and inside…Well, let’s just say, probably close to 30F.
I found a little space heater, tucked Adelyne and myself in a room, and we huddled together.
Turns out, there was a chunk of coal that got lodged in the feeder. But the problem was, there was 300 pounds of coal on top of that feeder. And I, after putting 300 pounds of coal in, was not about to shovel 300 pounds of coal out to find the problem. And, truthfully, I didn’t know what to look for anyhow. I just knew the coal stopped burning. The furniture only went so far. And we were cold.
So you can imagine that if we didn’t have heat in the house, we DEFINITELY didn’t have hot water.
Just another day not to take a shower, eh?
Ah…Life is full of adventures.
And sometimes we are clean for them.
And sometimes we are not.
Regardless, we always remember to check the bathwater before we throw anyone out!
Enjoy a few photos of my daily coal living in Poland.