Tonight, I coerced him into getting in with about an inch of water in the shallow end. He decided it was too much, and I had to let some out, but I tricked him and let out very little. We managed to get him washed and rinsed with little difficulty. When I washed his hair, I had to turn the tap on to get enough water to rinse with, and I admit I let it run a lot more than I actually needed. By the time we were finished he may have been sitting in two inches of water. He admitted it was a safe amount of water, and I made a big show of having Jamie come look so he'd know exactly how much water to run tomorrow. I think this is tremendous progress for 48 hours. The last time we went through this process, it took about a month, and at least one week of that process involved Duncan sitting in a dry tub while we washed him with water from a bucket.
If you are an astute, loyal, detail-oriented reader, you may remember that the drain is a major part of the problem. The fact that Duncan was willing to succumb to removing the three layers of drain protection in order to let some water out was remarkable. Now I can prove to him that he has been in the tub with the drain open, and nothing untoward has happened. I'm not really sure how it escaped his notice that he was sitting in the tub with the drain open, but it made me optimistic. Three layers of drain protection...and he still thinks he might get sucked down.
Psychologists call this process systematic desensitization and use it to treat phobias. During the last bath debacle, Jamie and I each came up with the same plan independently. His arose from logic and common sense and mine from the study of psychology...which makes you wonder just how much of psychology is actually just instinct. Either Jamie should study psychology, or I shouldn't have wasted my time. For the time being, however, I have a clean child who is sleeping soundly in his own bed in his own room and no hacking cough. I think I handle a little blip in the sonar.