Saturday, October 4, 2008

Regaining My Parental Authority

I've decided that J needs to learn how to do laundry. I arrived at this decision this week, after J ran out of clean underwear and had to wear the same pair two days in a row. I found myself apologizing to him profusely and promising I would have clean underwear available for him after his next shower. He surprisingly handled it very well. No fits, no talking back. As I think about it, this makes sense. Because he had all the power in our exchange. The way I kept saying I was sorry put him in the driver's seat. It's no wonder he didn't say "well make sure you do get me clean underwear, woman!" right back to me. The fact of the matter is that I have been asking him to put his dirty clothes in one spot for years now. Some times he does and some times he does not. When he does not, I've been picking up after him. Now I will admit that most of his dirty underwear got to the bottom of the whites pile, and I hadn't gotten around to washing the clothes on the bottom in a while - they kept piling up on top. So the next day (after providing him with two clean pairs of underwear) I told him I was going to show him how to do the laundry this weekend. He said no, he would not learn that. "Why should I?" he asked. I told him I might break my leg like Grandma did and couldn't get to the basement to do the laundry. Besides, I said, everyone should know how to clean their own clothes. Meanwhile, I have stopped washing his clothes. Each time I start a new load, I let him know and say he has an opportunity to learn how to operate the washing machine (I'm starting small.) I have told him that if he doesn't learn how to do it, he might just run out of clean clothes. His response? The first time I said this he went into a huge fit. The second time, "I don't care." My plan is to let him know when I'm beginning a new load of laundry each time and give him the opportunity to get his clothes clean. Each time he refuses, I won't put any of his clothes in the washing machine. I've warned James that I'm doing this. I hope he won't get any of the backlash, but I don't want my son to be one of those kids who feels entitled (in this case to clean laundry) simply because he exists. Some might consider this mean. I hope one day his wife will appreciate my efforts.

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