June 6, 2014

Quality FAMILY Time.

Four years ago, our Zombie Dishwasher finally gave up the ghost.


Since The Huz was doing most of the cooking, a fair chunk of the dish washing was done by ...yours truly.

But before you burst into tears of pity, let me tell you it hasn't been all bad. Sure, there are times when every single dish, glass, pot, cutlery and Tupperware in the kitchen has been used throughout the day, and every single able-bodied person mysteriously disappears after dinner. We're talking about the horrendous aftermath of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snackies, complete with crusted-on cement masquerading as cereal and the horrors of three day old tuna-sandwich plastic containers arising from the depths of an Eight Grader's school bag.

It's enough to give you the dry heaves (if you're lucky).


Rather than face it alone, I nag. I nag expertly. After a 30+ year career in animation production, making sure we get that commercial through the pipeline on time, under budget and with blow-the-client-away quality, I'm capable of world class nagging - I am a nagspert! Of course, animators are somewhat easier to herd than teenagers.


But eventually, during the first year of my unrelenting nagging to "COME AND HELP WITH THE DISHES", something very interesting began to happen. Dish washing time turned into one-on-one time. As I stood scrubbing and rinsing, my normally reticent teenagers would spill the beans about their day, their friends, their crushes and disappointments. The fresh linen in their hands methodically drying crockery still warm from the sink had a relaxing effect on them. I think it helped that I would stand facing the window, so there was no judgmental eye to cast aspersions. Whichever of my kids happened to be helping would soon begin leaking secrets and we began to know our children as people.


Washing dishes had become a safe place.

But that's not all. The Huz set up some speakers and a turntable in the kitchen and there was music. More than one teenager would join in with the clearing, and stacking and drying as I stood washing. We danced to the Beatles, The Jackson 5 and Elton John! We sang along to Grease and Rocky Horror! Old vinyl records were pulled out and played, the history of music was discussed, memories and stories emerged and our children began to know their parents as people.


Washing dishes had become fun.

There's more. The teenagers invited their friends and boyfriends over, who would stay for dinner and help with the dishes afterwards. Jokes, laughter and philosophical conversation flowed as the dirty dishes passed one by one through my soapy hands to wind up clean and dry in the cupboards.


And some days, most extraordinarily, The Huz and I will put our feet up and relax on the sofa while the kids do the dishes without us.


This story has been ripening in my head for four years. I've just come from the kitchen, singing a slew of Bee Gees songs with the seventeen-year-old girl. The sink is clean, the counter wiped and every dish has been scrubbed, dried and put away....tidied after a fashion.


I know that life isn't perfect; there are still days when no one comes to help and I just don't feel like nagging or washing dishes. On those days they get left in a pile until the next morning, and I'm okay with that.

I will never be tempted to trade my quality family time for a dishwasher. There are still memories waiting to be made washing dishes, and I know that soon enough, it will be just me and The Huz.

Do you have any fun stories about doing housework with your family?


15 comments:

  1. So much love for this! I do have a dishwasher, but then also 50 other dishes that never also fit into the dishwasher, so must be handwashed...or stuck in the dishwasher next time, maybe....ANYWAYS.... I love the moments of doing mundane chores and baking and such with my kids. Bedrooms getting deep cleaned, everyone joins in, we hang out, clean, talk, etc...doesn't matter. Everything is more enjoyable when you're doing it together instead of being perpetually nagged, threatened, grounded, etc....but yeah, there are days I won't even touch that nasty mess they call a bedroom, so nagging, threats, etc are issued, at least until I feel safe enough to venture.

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    1. You're making the mundane special. Love this.

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  2. I love that idea! How wonderful to bond as a family in that way! Our family was different. Nobody was ever in the same place at the same time. We NEEDED a dishwasher! Michael was a work-a-holic, I spent my early mornings, and evenings coaching swimming, and weekends painting. So we bonded over sports and music. My oldest daughter loved my music. That, in itself, was an amazing thing. We'd sing along with Joni Mitchell, the Stones, Laura Nyro, and Tori Amos. (while dancing, of course.) My son and I were baseball and soccer fans. I attended every baseball game, and every soccer game from age 4 to age 18. The whole family went to all Detroit Tigers home games. My youngest, wild child, and I spent hours together on our horses... chatting and bickering, and rehashing our day. Where we all came together was through our mutual love of music and art. We pored over volumes of my Art history books, debating what was and was not "art". When the rare occasion occurs that we are all together in the same town, humor is our common ground. God, I miss my kids.

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    1. Julie, it's obvious you love your kids so very much. Your family life is very rich with bonding.

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  3. I love this. so true. precious times with my parents over the sink, and even more so now me and my sisters are all grown up and moved away...when we are together and washing up the songs and the memories (and the arguments!) come flowing out and we are all back to our teenage selves :) lush!!

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    1. You and your sisters sang too? Oh yeah, the arguments! One out of three kids will often find a reason to go stomping off and avoid dish duty :D

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    2. our best 4 part harmonies were over the washing up!

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  4. I love love LOVE this. I need to do something and turn the putting away the dishes or stuffing them into the dishwasher as an "us" time. And as always I love your incredible talent. But the story and the artistic talent combined = happy reading. :)

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    1. I'm sure you will succeed! Thank you for your kind words, Andrea.

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  5. I LOVE this. Truly. It also has given me a great idea on how to get my son to help with the dishes more. ;-)

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    1. You mean the countdown to turn off the Internet?

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  6. Ha! Okay, love. Don't tell anyone... but I actually, quite weirdly, enjoy doing the dishes. It's the only chore I don't dread. There's something incredibly satisfying about it.

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    1. Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy. Dishwasher....time for a new résumé :D

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  7. Loved this post. My family can't understand why I wash dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher. Especially since I am such a kitchen gadget junkie. But there are two kitchen thingies I don't like to use. An electric can opener, and a dishwasher. There is something so much more satisfying about using my really nice hand held Kitchen Aid can opener. And dishwashers, don't even get me started. . .when I wash by hand it is a time to think, to ponder, to take stock of possible kitchen gadget omissions in my kitchen, and scheme to trick Mr 2Half into getting them for me. . .and I know just how clean those dishes really are and that the soap is really off.

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    1. I'm the same about how clean the dishes are, and about the soap being rinsed off, heheh.

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Cuz You Rocketh.