Lately I keep remembering a story from long ago. I guess people’s tales from summer camp adventures is part of it. I think my stage of parenting has me remembering, too. Tim and I are constantly trying to ‘refigure’ what we are doing right and what needs amending. I’m often wondering about ways that I could be more effective as a parent, about ways that I can be better at helping my kids take on something that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.
I had awesome parents. They were smart and interesting and fun. They, too, were consistently wondering about ways to aide my sister and I in growing into the amazing individuals we have become. (Smile).
My mother, the teacher, and my father, the marriage and family therapist, thought hard about the right things to do. Most of them worked out swimmingly. Every now and then, though, there was a bit of a backfire.
This story is too good. It’s too good not to be told:
At one point (just fine for my younger sister and twenty years too early for me) my parents decided that it would be beneficial for the two of us to take on more responsibility. It was time for us to do more around the house; time to learn a life skill.
Somewhere in late elementary school or early middle school, we were introduced to the lovely steps of laundering clothes. Jodi and I went through a short training, our folks practiced with us, and then we were to do our own laundry. Sounds do-able, huh?
It worked perfectly for Jodi, my younger sister by eighteen months. Her clothes were done on a regular schedule (even though she had to use a little stool to reach all of the way into the washer). She neatly kept a ‘white’ pile and a pile of ‘colored’ clothes. She swiftly swooped in the second her wash cycle was finished to lovingly transfer her clothes to the dryer. You must know, she folded them right from the dryer, into perfect, store-quality stacks. It was a beautiful thing.
My laundering system was not lovely. There was no system. I probably still owe her money from the times I tried to purchase her services as a washer woman. When I was left to my own devices, however, it was not a pretty sight. I waited until I was out of every bit of clothing that I could wear and I loaded my arms to their capacity to head to the laundry room. Once there, I crammed the entire mass into the washer, with no concern whatsoever to the color or material. I remember a few times that I had to be called to the laundry room because the washer couldn’t actually wash clothes when they were piled too tightly to allow the spinner to rotate. Ughh . . . details.
Many of my favorite clothes quickly turned pink and the rest became Barbie clothes. Apparently, I had missed the part of discussion about cottons, hot water, etc. Things are not much better now, but I’ve managed to keep most of my family’s wardrobe the original size and color.
Jodi, ohhhh Jodi, she was the laundress extraordinaire. She was meant for the task and she did it well.
The fun part of the story came when she went away to summer camp a few months after our new routine. She went to a camp near our home, and she was to stay two weeks. Midway during the camp, families were allowed to come to camp for a visit.
The parents of children who lived nearby would gather the soiled laundry from the first week, wash it quickly and then deliver it back to ready their children for the second week. My parents and I could not wait to get to the camp and see Jodi on Parent’s Day. We were excited to see her cabin, meet her new friends and hear about all of her adventures.
I remember it well. We arrived at the camp, families and campers strewn out all around, in the cabins and out. It was a happy day. We located Jodi’s cabin and met her counselors. We talked about where we should go to dinner, and then my Mom asked Jodi to grab her laundry. (Here’s where the plan goes awry.)
Jodi looked up proudly, smiled and stated, “Oh, my friend’s Mom took it home to wash it for me.”
“What?”, my mother asked. “Why?”
“Well, she was so sweet . . . I explained to her that you didn’t do my laundry, and she felt sorry for me. She said she’d do it.”
Suffice it to say that we didn’t spend too much time at the camp that day. We didn’t hang around to meet the nice laundry lady, and Mom just hoped and prayed the woman never learned her name.
All of this remembering has me wondering which of my plans will come back to haunt me!