Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Gamma Girl Wash Day (After Day...)

I got my arm stuck in a pair of skinny jeans the other day. There I was, steadily working my way through a quantity of laundry that might have you thinking we’re a family of seventeen. This is because - well, yeah, I hate doing laundry so it does tend to accumulate - but also because my daughter likes to surprise me.

Freshly laundered clothes make their way to her room where they occupy a basket in the middle of her floor. There they stay. As she requires something, she simply reaches into the basket and yanks it out, thereby unfolding whatever is on top of it. Should she change her mind about what to wear, she will simply let that first article drop to the basket. Likewise whatever she’s taken off at the end of the day. Within 48 hours, it is impossible to distinguish clean from dirty, worn from unworn. When orders are issued for her to clean up her room, she gathers the entire monstrous bulk, irrespective of its cleanliness, and drops it into (and onto, and around) the laundry basket. This bounty of soiled clothing typically appears as I’m congratulating myself on having completed the laundry; suddenly, there it is, like a really perverse take on presents under the tree. Surprise!

Now, all this applies only to clothing in her room. On any given day, we can engage in a scavenger hunt of sorts with the clothing she deposits in her wake as she moves through the house. Diva’s technique for removing articles of clothing can best be described as peeling, so whatever we find is invariably inside-out with the real surprises still waiting to be discovered: bits of food, still-wet paint, mangled up band-aids, bubblegum and things I don’t even want to think about that make her socks all stiff and crunchy. Even the dogs have gotten in on the fun; our younger dog regularly makes off with socks and underwear to enjoy at his leisure in the yard, so when searching for my daughter’s clothing, I can’t forget to go have a look in the holes out back.

All of this makes an already odious job worse. A couple of months back, Diva took laundry matters into her own hands; she gathered a handful of essentials and marched them down to the washer. She washed them, dried them, and (smugly) retrieved them. We showered her with praise for showing initiative, for being responsible, for being helpful, for being mature, clever, fashionable and beautiful (if you can’t make as big a fuss over good behavior as bad, you shouldn't be parenting). A couple of days later, she did it again - and the house filled with the smell of mildew. Investigating, I learned that three days earlier, she had found the washer occupied. Ditto the dryer. No prob: she’d simply emptied both and dumped the lot onto a basket of dirty laundry. This time, she'd spied a couple of items she thought to include in her new wash so they went into the dryer...having had a few days to get nice and mildewy.

So here I am, back on laundry detail. Reaching into a pair of my daughter’s inside-out skinny jeans, I get my arm stuck. Granted, I’m a little over my optimal weight, but not by that much - I’m a former jock and can still be roughly described as “lean-ish”; nevertheless, there I was, stuck in a pair of skinny jeans. The damn things wouldn’t let go and gripped my arm like a giant Chinese finger puzzle.

The thoughts that chased each other through my head at such a moment ranged from “dammit, how many times have I asked/nagged/shouted at her to turn the *#@ things right-side out before dumping them in the laundry?” to “just how skinny is my child?” to “do jeans need to be this skinny?” and “thank God neither child is nearby with a camcorder.” Between fuming and laughing at my predicament, I took deep steadying breaths and did what my daughter does: I peeled.

I figure there’s a better than even chance she’ll notice in a few days that I’m no longer washing inside-out skinny jeans.

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