dilemma of the day…laundry

Oldest is almost eighteen years old.  Because he is our first, he is no doubt indelibly hobbled by the legacy of our overwhelming interest in him.  Fine. But shouldn’t he be doing his laundry by now?

This is the sorry state of Oldest’s laundry affairs:

dirty on the floor

clean on the folding table

clean in the washing machine

So here was today’s dilemma.  All three of these piles were left in the garage which doubles – or is it triples? – as a laundry room and playroom.  This means his piles were IN THE WAY of the rest of us.

So, should I leave them where they are or haul them back to his room?

Arguments for leaving them the way they are:  1) the fact that there is clean laundry means he is making some sort of effort and I shouldn’t bust him too hard for the half-@ssed nature of the job; 2) he is deeply ambivalent about growing up and has been sad recently at the thought of "never living in this house again" after he leaves for college; 3)he is our first and we can’t expect him to be anything but spoiled due to the interest we have taken in him (see above)

Arguments for throwing the piles into his room: 1)the half-@ssed nature of the job;  2)the fact that he left his detritus in the way of anyone else who might want to do laundry or play pool; 3)there is something slightly seedy about him leaving things out – as if he expects that I will finish the folding, drying and washing for him; 4)I know it will make an impact.

In the end, I moved them, started writing this entry, and moved them back.  I decided to stay out of it, to go with the the action that has less of me in it.  Sometimes what happens with kids is that, when we want them to change behavior, we do things that tilt them in the direction of responding to us – with compliance or defiance – and not to the job at hand.  So, by putting them back where he left them, I hope that he responds to the simple fact that laundry no longer does itself.


One thought on “dilemma of the day…laundry

  1. What a wonderful post! Thank you. I used to do some of these things myself… : ) I think there is no perfect answer, although many parenting educators will tell you that if you pick up after him constantly that you play into that game and he will expect you to always, that he learns no consequences from his behavior, etc. etc. I’ve heard plenty of that advice. I accept some of it, but I also prefer a more compassionate dialogue. As long as the kid is not hostile, I prefer saying with some irony, isn’t that a lovely sight… here you are 18, about to launch into your own independent life and your laundry is still on the floor… : ) Well, something like that, my approach would be more about highlighting the incompatibilities that come up as a result of that lack of follow through. To connect to the importance of follow through in life, to explain that a basic rule of civility is not encroaching on others, and that these things are simple ones that will give him the sense of control he wants and needs in life (that is, such a sense comes from being able to manage the small things in life, taking them step by step). On warning and pick-up, then no help! : ) Oh, please don’t think I’m giving you advice. I think these things are different for every parent. You’ve just made me think of my own childhood, and my 19 year old, and well, my six year old also (the issues are the same although treating them is different!). I think your action was good! especially taking the moment to write this entry! : ) Thank you!
    Good to find you through Kim’s blog!

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