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?