Yesterday we had a snow day. Really, it ended up being a rain day. Rained and rained and rained from the moment the sun came up until we all put ourselves to bed. COLD and cheerless. No school: yes, and sleeping in: yes. However; there aren't really a lot of fun outdoor options on a day this raw and bleak. So... when you have a FUN indoor mom like me, you get to clean out closets and drawers. This is an announcement that, shockingly, gets mostly moans, groans and inaudible mumbling when announced at breakfast. With three daughters each about two years apart in age who should carry printed hash tags like #don'tWEARmyBRA! and #TAKEoffMYsocks! and #ISthatMYshirt?!? a group activity dealing with clothing can be either highly amusing or unbearably miserable. We also have the random eight-year-old boy to throw in the mix, who can instantly ignite either extreme. We had a little of both yesterday until, like manna from heaven, a neighbor boy called asking if the little flame thrower could come over and play. Then there was peace. (Mostly.)
A portion of the day went something like this:
Me: Girls, I want you to empty your drawers of ALL clothing you no longer want or wear. Bring me the things you are getting rid of.
A short time later I found all three of them sitting in the oldest's room, giggling at her shirt collection.
Me: Hey, you three get to work and clean out your drawers!
This was met with some resistance. They decided it was much more entertaining to take turns and mock each other for either keeping or discarding their clothing. I figured their approach was something akin to "getting along" and decided to leave them to their mocking and giggling. Meanwhile, I went to work pushing through a few loads of laundry.
In the laundry room (Let me preface this with: We have a pretty good, pretty simple approach to laundry. Above the washer and dryer there are two wire shelves that hold eight labeled laundry baskets; one for each member of our family. Instead of spending hours folding laundry, we empty the dryer directly into each person's laundry basket, and they are responsible to get their own clean laundry folded and put away. It's not perfect, but it works) I looked up at Mr. Dub's laundry basket and discovered his work shirt and pants hanging out. I frequently get scolded for not taking his shirts and pants right out of the dryer and getting them hung up, so he doesn't have to spend so much time ironing. Even though he knows I am not the only laundry queen in the house; it's usually only the two of us lovebirds around when he finds his wrinkly clothes in a ball instead of on a hanger. (note: That's not one of my most favorite husband-wife-together moments.) I called in the last lovely daughter to do laundry, and pointed to the offending attire.
Me: What are you doing, putting Dad's clean work clothes in his laundry basket?!?
Her: Um, sorting them and putting them away...
Me: Haven't we talked about HANGING them up so they don't get wrinkly?
Her: Umm... Yes, but the tag said wrinkle-free!
Me: [jaw dropping slowly towards the floor] [then rendered speechless]
Me: You mean you took the time to read the tag, but you couldn't take the time to put them on hangers?!?...
Her: MOM... the TAG said WRINKLE FREE.
This is where I started thinking calm, reassuring developmental-stage phrases like "this is why you have to EXPLAIN things to kids" and "you can't assume they understand what you think they already understand" to myself. Then I went over the proper procedure for hanging Dad's work clothes in a tone of voice that probably did not match the tone of voice of the calm phrases I was hearing in my head.
Later in the morning I was sitting at the dining room table sorting socks. This is an activity that must take place about once every week. When socks come out of the dryer, they frequently do not have a mate. To cut down on the frustration of not having matches for socks, years ago I borrowed a technique from a friend: I have a small basket or sturdy bag waiting by the dryer for single socks. All socks that don't come out attached to their mate get put in the sock receptacle. Over the years, we've amassed quite a collection of single socks that, no matter how much laundry gets washed, remain single. They stay in a growing collection at the bottom of the pile. Much to my dismay, they seem to remain the sock version of the singles bar; milling around together, but rarely finding a mate. Yesterday I made a shocking discovery. One of my daughters (who's identity I will protect, but believe me she's OUT and been given a tongue-lashing at home) thinks that putting dirty, balled up socks back in her drawers is much easier than tossing them next door to the laundry room. I'm embarrassed to tell you how many socks she turned over to her mom-turned-laundry-cop. I'm still washing this morning, and the single socks no longer fit in the bag. She was made painfully aware that she was the reprehensible sock-hoarder keeping those poor socks single all this time. AND, I'm sure she will be delighted to discover that this afternoon's pre-homework activity will be making matches of all the dirty socks I've washed since yesterday. I'm going to make sure she's aware of how HAPPY she will be making some very lonely socks.
Teenagers and Laundry are not always a match made in heaven.