The other day I made the decision that from that point on everyone in my house should be responsible for doing their own laundry: I was officially relinquishing my status as Laundry Slave. This, I thought, would do two things: one, it would make my life easier, and two, it would make our environmental impact smaller, if for no other reason than the fact that if Clementine had to start doing her own laundry our water bill would be cut in half.
Surely, I thought, if she was the one that had to do her own wash then she would see the folly of wearing every item of clothing she owned for five minutes once a day and then throwing it on the ground and trampling it for the rest of the week. Surely she would see what a complete and utter waste of time and resources that was, and perhaps even have her very own laundry epiphany, one where she stood next to the gigantic pile of laundry she managed to single-handedly create each and every week, shake her head sadly, and then proclaim, to all and sundry, “Never again, by God. Never again.”
Such were the hopeful thoughts that were going on in my head when Clementine first started doing her own laundry. And those hopeful thoughts continued until the day I came home and saw her washing one single t-shirt. I watched, horrified, as she then set that one shirt aside to pull out somebody else’s load of half-dried clothes from the dryer, dump them in the dirty clothes hamper, and then toss her single t-shirt in the dryer before turning it on high and walking away. Or at least attempt to walk away, before I stopped her to ask why she was only washing a single shirt.
“Because it’s the shirt I want to wear.”
“Yeah, but don’t you have any other laundry?”
I thought of how, if an interior designer were forced to describe her room, he would probably end up referring to her floor as being carpeted in “early 21st century t-shirt,” but instead of pointing out that dirty laundry, which was a few rooms away, I simply pointed to the dirty clothes hamper she had just filled to overflowing with the wet clothes from the dryer. “What about those?” I asked.
“I’ll put them back in the dryer when my shirt is dry.” From the way she said it I could tell that this idea had just occurred to her, but I let that pass, and instead concentrated on the issue at hand.
“I mean, what about those clothes on the bottom of the hamper. You could have put them in there with your shirt.”
She looked at the dirty clothes hamper, and then at me, her face incredulous with disgust. “But those clothes are Clyde’s. And besides that, they’re dirty.” I tried to explain the whole point of the washing machine to her—that you put dirty clothes in, and took clean clothes out, but she was having none of it.
The next morning I got up to the familiar smell of mildew, and traced it to the pile of wet clothes that were still mouldering in the laundry hamper. With a sigh I dumped them back into the washer, and announced a new rule: from now on, children were not to do their own laundry.
The funny thing was I felt good about this decision: after all, one, it would make my life easier, and two, it would reduce our environmental impact. And really: isn’t that what I had been going for in the first place?