“I don’t want to take a bath!”

“You have to take a bath.”

“I. DON’T. WANT. TO!”

“I’m sorry, honey.  We’re taking a bath.”

“ARGH!” the three-year-old barks then flops to the ground like a pile of noodles.  A greased, kicking pig in a pile of noodles.

An ankle in each hand, I say calmly through gritted teeth, “If you kick me again, it’s lights out, Henry.  No stories.  No hugs.  No blankie.  Got it?”

“FINE!”

“Stand up.”

“No!”

“One . . . Two . . . Do you want me to say ‘Three’?”

I don’t specify what happens at three.  He takes one look at my murderous face and pops up.  I pull his shirt off and carry his clothes to the hamper in the hall.  He’s still standing where I left him, staring at his tummy.  My hands ball into fists.  Breathe. “Come on, Henry.  Bath!”

“Mom?”  He pushes a finger into a tiny pink dot on his chest.  “What are dees tings called again?”

“Nipples, honey.”

“Nipples!”  He grins.  “Why they all pokey?”

“Um . . . because they’re cold.”  I don’t want to smile back.  I really don’t.  Damn.  “Go get in the bath, honey.”