The benefits of eighteen (and some laundry stuff)

My kids are, roughly speaking, halfway to eighteen.

GoGo turns 8 this week.  Watty stays 9 until next May.

(at two loads of laundry per week per child, i’ve washed approximately 1,664 loads of laundry for them so far.  that’s a LOT of socks.)

Quite frankly, the idea that they are halfway to adulthood scares the living snot out of me!

they are halfway to eighteenThere’s so much to teach them and it feels like there is no possible way to teach it all.  How on earth will there be time to teach them to pick the perfect peach?  To make a killer pot of pinto beans from scratch?  To make $5 last all week?  To sew on a button?  To fake a clean house?  To know when it’s time to buy the girl flowers versus chocolates?

My kids are, at times, looking forward to eighteen.

(hmm… only nine more years of their laundry… maybe i have a few things to look forward to also!)

GoGo has big dreams for eighteen.

He has a drawing of the house he wants to live in.  He thinks that it’s the perfect house for BOTH brothers to live in.   They have a big bunkhouse with two upper bunks for them to sleep in.  There are slides so they can slide down to the floor.  There’s an entire room dedicated to cat toys (no, that wasn’t a euphemism).  The whole place is wired for playing Minecraft.  I think he’s even planned for Zombie attacks.

He’s figured out that he needs a job too.  He plans to be famous making Minecraft videos on YouTube.

Watty has little dreams for eighteen.

He wants to know if he can still live at home.

His little brother is already gently teasing him for this.

Watty is one of those kids that won’t bother to date because he doesn’t want to spend money on girls.  Since he may very well try to keep living at home until his thirties, I figured it was time to start laying the expectations.

Me:  You can live at home just as long as you go to community college and have a part time job.

(we have a community college within WALKING distance of our home.  it’s a reasonable thing to say.)

GoGo:  That’s BORING!

(i have an entirely different set of battles with that child.  the longer he stays home, the safer the world will be.  he’s a “turn it up to 11” kind of child.)

Me:  There are certain benefits to turning 18.  You get to pick your own bedtime.

(hey, that’s a big deal in our home right now.  they think i’m unreasonable in my choice of bedtimes.)

At this point, Watty starts doing an end-zone touchdown dance.

Watty:  Ohhhh…. Yeah….

i had to think quickly.  it sounded like this….

Me:  But… I quit doing your laundry.

He stopped mid-dance-step.  It was like when the ref throws a flag down and sends everyone back to the 20 yard line.

Watty:  Oh… no….

Don’t tell my son, but he’s going to start owning his laundry a LOT sooner than eighteen.   Like maybe… NOW?

I laughed my head off last night.  I needed that.

Watty:  Mommy! It’s NOT FUNNY!

He stomped out of the room, clearly frustrated at my reaction.

We’re on the road to eighteen.

It’s going to be a long roadtrip.

Today, I’d like some advice.  Best suggestion on ages for when my boys should “own” their own laundry?  

They share a closet and a wardrobe.  They wear the same size in everything but shoes.  They wear a school uniform.

They can already load the washer and start it.  They can move stuff from washer to dryer and start it.  They can, with supervision, put their clothes away.  Without supervision they tend to dump it back into the dirty clothes pile.


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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. {Kathy} Oh Susan, I have much to say about everything you have shared today. I have 18 and 19 year old sons who are off at school. I can honestly say you will never think you have enough time to teach them everything you want to. Laundry was a HUGE hang up for me. I felt so much pressure from everyone to make them “do their own”, as if it was some sort of surprise that someday they will. Honoring my work as their mom — much more important. I wish that I would have just let this one take care of itself. I started treating them more like “roommates” than teenagers when they were in high school. It helped. But the real truth is that no one worries about the laundry in a house like the mother.
    Cooking? I think is a much more important skill to learn. Still, they might resist. Give them opportunity and room to mess up. But the real truth is that you just want them to say, “Thank you” when you put food in front of them or know how to make you soup and toast if you are sick.
    There is nothing extraordinary about 18. What’s extraordinary is when you realize you are still raising good men — even when you do their laundry.
    Mothering From Scratch recently posted..answers to common questions about homeschoolMy Profile

    • Kathy — such wisdom! I’m not even sure where to begin.

      I love your perspective. Right now I really would be happy with a few “thank you’s” and some recognition that the work I do has value. I’d love for them to not take it for granted that I’m always there to make sure we don’t run out of toilet paper and have clean socks. And yes… even if they don’t like dinner I’d like them to appreciate that I put time and energy into the meal.

      Laundry is… laundry. But as I type this my youngest is yelling “I’m being helpful mommy, I’m putting ALL the dirty clothes in the washer.” He put soap in there and started it. I didn’t ask. I don’t know what’s in the washer, so this should be interesting. There is NOT A SHRED of clothing in our house that I value more than his helpfulness. Even if I shreds my favorite bra and turns some socks pink. Maybe there’s hope after all.
      Susan Baker recently posted..The benefits of eighteen (and some laundry stuff)My Profile

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