Lately, not to jinx it or anything? But, for me at least, M’s been a delight. That kid is sharp. She is funny. She says all sorts of jokey pleasant things, which I appreciate, and when you realize that she’s turning 13 in two weeks, it’s remarkable how much of a tremendous pain in the ass she isn’t.
Okay, here’s an example. M just bought herself a new sweatshirt at a recent soccer tournament. It is her new favorite piece of clothing, tie-dyed blue and white, with a logo in front and her jersey number in back. Except that she recently wore it while eating a juicy plum, and now it has three fairly significant pinkish splotches. She brought it to me and showed me the stains.
“What do you think?” she asked, as if she were an orthopedist who’d like a second opinion on an X-ray.
“Hmmm. . . we’ll see how it goes. . . .” I said.
“Mom, you got this. I believe in you,” she said.
“Well,” I mused, “If I can’t get the stain out, we could potentially rub the rest of it with plum to make it look like it’s another tie-dye color?”
And then we both laughed and high-fived.
The next day, M saw the sweatshirt hanging from a hook next to the washer.
“How’s the sweatshirt doing?” She asked. Again, sounding like she was asking about a patient.
“I haven’t even tried yet,” I answered.
“Okay,” she nodded and walked away.
Alright, perhaps you’ll say that my expectations are too low, but this seems like a fabulous success story to me. M was pleasant, undramatic, and appreciative.
But you know what’s even better about it? When she acts like this, it’s because I taught her to do it.
1. She brought her stained clothes to me. Hello? Do you know how much training it took for me to get my kids to understand how important Stain Awareness is to The Laundry Sciences? I even made a flow chart long ago, which got prettied up for KidsOutAndAbout:
So, yeah. That kind of awesome requires significant teaching. And re-teaching.
2. She made that “I believe in you” comment. Well, that’s a long-standing saying of mine from times when my children have said that they were incapable of something that was entirely within their capabilities (think cleaning rooms, helping to clear the table, finishing spelling sentences). I’ll say things like, “I believe you can do it” or “I am profoundly confident in your abilities.”
Is there a wee bit of smart-assery when I’m saying this to my children, and then when they say it back to me? Yes. But you know what? Even if there is occasionally a smirk involved, there’s no getting around the fact that these are affirming comments. So, when I say something like, “Phew! I finally caught up with all of my emails!” and M responds with, “Way to go, Mom. I’m so proud of you,” the truth is I know that she is half-kidding, but also that she’s happy for me. And I feel perversely proud of myself, too. Possibly this is also because I try to model appreciation for small things.
3. She nodded and moved on. When M realized that for an entire day, I’d completely ignored her favorite piece of clothing, in her opinion a true laundry emergency, she was completely polite, accepting it with nary an eyeroll. She didn’t even ask when I’d get to it. Am I the only one amazed by this lack of drama? Did I mention that she’s a 7th grader? And this is her new favorite sweatshirt? Again, maybe my expectations are low, but if you think I’m silly for appreciating this completely normal and reasonable behavior, I’ll tell you a secret. Low expectations=joy. And once again, it’s even better because I know why there isn’t any drama. Once upon a time, back when there used to be Laundry Drama, I came up with a powerful phrase which can be adapted for your use. This is where Cute W would claim that it was his “patented method,” but that’s another story, and I’m getting distracted. Here’s the phrase:
“Anyone who feels so passionate about laundry should clearly be doing her own laundry.”
I think that I only said this two to three times before it took effect. And I was completely in earnest, following up with the offer of doing a little laundry clinic and writing up a cheat sheet to help the girls remember the steps to follow. When that happened, my kids fled in terror. But now, see: it’s out there. Laundry is something that I’m doing for them as a favor. Because I’m nice. They are fully capable of doing it for themselves. I am offering this service out of the goodness of my heart, but this service could be rescinded at any time. Do you see how awesome this is? Instant gratitude! Now, imagine the applications! “Anyone with such a refined palate should probably be in charge of cooking his own meals” or “Someone so excited about getting the kiddy pool filled could really pour that passion into scrubbing away the mildew!” See. . . ? I highly recommend it.
And guess what? In the time it took to write this post, the sweatshirt went through the wash and came out, plum-free.
Damn, I’m good.