I have long been of the opinion that often the best parenting is borne of sheer laziness inertia. Janet gave us a sterling example of this earlier this week -- not only does she have a teen who does her own laundry (in sheerest self-defense), this teen will also DO HER PARENTS' LAUNDRY!
Does it get any better???
Unlike Janet, I rather like doing laundry. (I know, I know. I'm a freak. But hey, I'm a freak with clean clothes!) So, the ONLY reason I don't do my kids' laundry is because they need to learn how. It's a life skill, along with cooking balanced meals, paying bills on time, and balancing chequebooks.
(Me, I've got three of those four nailed so far...)
When each child turned 12-ish, I showed the child how to use the machine and sort clothes, I suggested a schedule that would keep them ahead of the piles, and I stood back.
And stood back.
And stooooooood back.
I sttod back as the piles grew, as the kids fell further and further behind, as their bedrooms vanished beneath an ever-growing mound of reeking fabric. As they were forced to wear wrinkled and sweaty clothes to school. Because, I trusted, sooner or later they would hit that tipping point, and would cave in to necessity.
And I would not -- repeat, WOULD NOT -- cave in first.
And this was HARD for me, because, as I say, I like doing laundry. I itched to get in there and make it all go away, turn the moldering heaps into sunshine-fresh, neatly folded stacks. Oh, the gratification! The satisfaction! The not gagging when I passed their rooms! But I had a parenting principle at stake, and, dammit, the lazy little slobs were GOING to do their own laundry!
Eventually, they did. Not with the frequency I might prefer, not with system or regularity. But do it, they did. All three of them.
Theoretically, laundry includes drying, folding, and putting away, but, hell, if they get the dry clothes into their rooms, I'm prepared to leave it at that. There are only so many battles a woman is willing to fight in a week, and when it comes to room maintenance, my kids have turned inertia into an art form. But! They wash their own clothes! And I do not! This is Success.
You may be further impressed by this achievement when I tell you that I have thrown an extra challenge into my children's laundry-ing: We have no dryer.
We have no dryer because 1. I am an eco-friendly sort and 2. We do not have a ton of money to throw around. Put 1 and 2 together, and you get a woman who decides that convenience factor does not outweigh a) the cost of purchasing and running a machine and b) its environmental impact.
We line-dry outside in the summer, in the basement in the winter... which means a lag of anywhere from two to twelve hours for dry clothes, depending on the type of clothes and the weather conditions. This is not a big deal, really, once one has made the necessary mental/logistical adjustment.
Me, I actively enjoy hanging clothes on the line, and pulling them down a couple hours later, smelling of fresh air, all crisp with sunshine. My own kids don't share the joy, but they deal. Because, really, what choice do they have?
It's not a big deal, that is, to anyone but Aisling. The grapevine informs me that Aisling is "totally freaked" about the whole line-drying thing, and I suspect the grapevine is right, because Aisling, who has now been living with us for six weeks, has yet to do one single load of laundry.
Granted, the girl has enough clothes to keep a family of four dressed for quite some while, but I'd have though we'd have hit the tipping point by now.
Six weeks, and no laundry.
No, I tell a lie. Two weeks ago, she was complaining that she had run out of underwear and so, deciding to cut her a little slack, I offered to throw some in with the load I was doing that day. This is more than I would normally do for my own kids, but she's new, so I was being nice.
Two weeks ago, she was running out of underwear. Two weeks ago, I washed six pairs for her.
And nothing since. By my calculations, she's been without underwear for eight days now...
Do I want to ask?