Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Dirty laundry is my nemesis. It is my greatest challenge and biggest foe. It is the one thing in my life I cannot get my hands around - it’s just too big. Just as I think the last sock is washed and the bath towels are folded and put away, five kids in wet bathing suits and wet towels will fly through the back door leaving a pile of laundry on the floor. After fifteen years, I have accepted the fact that the laundry is bigger than I and it is truly a mountain I will never conquer. There are no support groups for those who need a laundry intervention, so I decided to tackle this problem using the tools at hand... namely, child one and child two. I announced to my kids that they were responsible for doing their own laundry. This was said with great authority and self-pride that I had taken charge. Nothing happened. No laundry was done. The kids were quite content mining for clothes at the back of their closet and had no need to wash their dirty clothes as long as there remained an abundant supply of clean items to wear, even if they were out of style and two sizes too small. I accepted defeat once again and relinquished control of my failed laundry skills to a higher power. One day while forgetting to remove $35 cash from my jeans pocket, I began another round of laundry. I had no idea what luck lay ahead. I sent my daughter, against her will, to remove the clothes from the dryer. As she reached into the dryer she discovered a crisp, clean five dollar bill. She squealed with delight. We all know laundry law dictates that you keep what you find and she ran about the house gloating about her new wealth. She returned to her laundry duties with a new found excitement and shortly after retrieved a twenty dollar bill from the dryer. Prepared to dispute laundry law, I was ready to take back my twenty, but realized that this lesson might be worth twenty dollars in the long run. She took her cash and showed all the neighborhood kids who were standing in my kitchen in their freshly laundered towels and suits. It wasn’t long before the kids were begging to do the laundry. I even had one of their mothers offer to wash our clothes. I had accidentally stumbled onto something bigger than me and possibly bigger than the laundry pile itself. Doing the laundry had become a treasure hunt and my kids were begging for more clothes to wash. The neighbors even wanted to see my dirty laundry and they meant it in the most literal way. I actually caught a glimpse of the end of the laundry pile and a feeling of success and happiness welled up inside of me. I discovered great enjoyment watching the kids race to the washroom each day to start a new load of clothes. Most people throw dryer sheets in their dryer. I toss in a few dollar bills and before long I have clean laundry, happy kids and a new found freedom from the evil laundry monster that had enslaved me for years. The cost of this new freedom....a couple of dollars a day and an occasional five or ten thrown in for motivation. I’ve toyed with expanding this idea and throwing in a surprise find to keep up the excitement. Unfortunately, most of my ideas such as concert tickets, chocolate, or a puppy just won’t work. The kids will simply have to find self-motivation with their Downy fresh ones and fives because once you make it to the end of laundry pile, there is no going back!