I am on a quest to make my children more self-sufficient. Because I hope that someday they’ll move out. Part of my quest involves mastery-by-inches when it comes to the laundry.
Chickadee knows how to do her own laundry, and sometimes she even does. But for the most part I take care of the parts involving the washing machine and dryer. It used to be that laundry magically took care of itself, you know, and bit by bit I’m trying to factor myself out of the equation. First it was “nothing gets washed unless it’s in the hamper.” Then it was “nothing gets washed unless the hamper is placed in front of the washer.” And I’ve also gone from putting their stuff away for them to folding it all and letting them put away to simply handing them baskets of clothes to deal with with on their own.
I really thought I was on the right path.
This morning I made my standard “Gee, I think I’ll do some laundry today, you have five minutes to get your stuff here for me” proclamation. The children somewhat obediently rounded up their stuff and a mound of clothing was left in the kitchen for me.
[Digression: Last year I finally made the leap to litter-free lunches for the kids. I spent a pile of money on Etsy, buying cloth napkins and nylon-lined fabric food pouches and the like. Because I pack three lunches a day (I also make Otto’s lunch, because he’s nice and I like him), I bought six of everything I thought I needed. One to use, one to wash, etc. Of course, what I generally end up doing is taking the stuff from the day before and just kind of wiping it off, and then at the end of the week when I do the kids’ laundry, I run everything through the washing machine.
I kid you not, we’d been on the new system NOT TWO WEEKS when one of the lunch napkins went missing. I knew exactly when it happened, too, and when I told the kids that the napkin had gone into the laundry but never came out, they rolled their eyes. JUST CHECK YOUR CLOTHES, PLEASE, I begged them, but they assured me I’d counted wrong, no way had the napkin gone into their clothes. Mind you, I’d bought lunch napkins in BRIGHT YELLOW to make sure they wouldn’t be thrown away or otherwise overlooked, but that crafty napkin got away and was never seen again, despite my having gone through every inch of the kids’ rooms twice apiece. Over the last year we have occasionally joked that it must have dreamed of becoming a sock, and set off with the rest of the rogues to never-never land.]
Anyway. There have been a few bumps on the manage-your-own-laundry road. Chickadee favors the It’s Put Away If It’s In My Closet method, which means that any clothing that makes it beyond the closet door is taken care of so far as she’s concerned. Floor of the closet? Hey, that’s the closet! Not so much hanging on hangers as, well, in a pile on TOP of some hangers? Did she mention it’s IN THE CLOSET? Geez.
Monkey is a master rule-followed, but never let it be said that he hasn’t found a loophole or two. His clothes are always put away in the proper drawers. But, uh, sometimes he forgets to fold them. Or to pair his socks. Fair enough, right? Totally age-appropriate. Sometimes I step in, other times I just try to let it go.
So back to today: Chickadee delivered the hamper to the washer and matter-of-factly called over her shoulder, “Yeah, um, Monkey’s pajamas are all wedged behind his bed and we can’t reach them. But everything else is here.”
Monkey has a so-called “captain’s bed” which means that it’s a little higher than a standard bed, to accommodate a storage unit of drawers and cubbies underneath it. It weighs approximately fifty gazillion pounds, and despite our attempts to firmly wedge it into the corner of his room so tightly that nothing can slip past his mattress, he manages to lose clothing, toys, papers, and other assorted flotsam to the empty space behind the storage unit with astonishing regularity. A quick investigation revealed that yes, his beloved shark pajamas were wedged down behind the headboard in such a way that the entire storage unit needed to be extracted before the jammies were accessible. DO NOT ASK ME HOW HE DOES THIS. So first Chickadee and I tried to move the storage unit, then eventually Otto came and helped me, and the pajamas were retrieved, and Otto and I sat on the floor puffing and red-faced discussing how we might reconfigure the furniture in there so that items lost under the bed might be more easily retrieved. (Pro of moving bed out of the corner: Stuff will be easier to get to. Con of moving bed out of the corner: If he loses this much stuff under there now, how long before the entire contents of the room are living under there?)
Finally a decision was made to not change anything just yet, and Otto and I stood up to move the storage unit back into place under the bed. This required pulling out the drawers to get adequate purchase on the frame of the thing, and as I locked my hand around the frame from above, looking straight down, I made a triumphant discovery.
The missing yellow napkin! It was: 1) half-wrapped in the leg of a pair of fuzzy pajama bottoms which was 2) between the appointed drawer and the back of the frame of the unit, having been hastily shoved in there and trapped beyond the normal view of the drawer 3) over a year ago.
Ah, sweet vindication. I’d TOLD them I knew it went through the laundry.
Of course, victory like that is short-lived when I realize what this may mean in terms of that eventual self-sufficiency I’m hoping we’ll achieve some day. Still, I can see “yellow napkin!” becoming a gentler, slightly kinder shorthand for “Dude, you can’t find your own ass with two hands and a flashlight” ’round here.