Sunday, January 01, 2006

Learning To Wash Dishes

I grew up with a stay at home mother but she did not invest her days in teaching her children. She did the job of maid, cook and chauffeur but she did not pass along her knowledge to her children so that we would have the skills that we needed when we were grown up. She did not do this maliciously. Her generation left the home and went to work. She was against a swelling tide by staying home and her job was minimized by society. She did not realized how important she was in teaching and passing on knowledge.

When I left home I had never cooked anything. I had never baked. I had never done a load of laundry and I had no basis for understand the complexities of home management. Bless my husbands heart for staying with me through all my failed baking attempts. For all the "red" clothes that mysteriously came out of the washer and for all those nights of eating the same things over and over again without a single word of complaint.

My grandmother who is in her late 70's was at our home on Christmas day and helped me to wash dishes. As her wash rag swished in the water and around the cup she started to laugh. "Do you remember when you came to my house and I taught you how to wash dishes?" She said. "You were so worried about getting your hand down into the bottom of the glass. I told you to worry about the rim. That's where all the germs are!" As she was relaying this story I remembered it as if it was yesterday. The warmth of that moment has been with me ever since. It takes time, love and patience to teach our children the things that they will need to know. It also takes an awareness of what our children are capable of. I think we put off teaching them many things because we think they are to young. In truth they are extremely capable of learning and doing household chores. Enjoyment is an entirely different matter.

I will never forget spring cleaning with my daughter Emily. As I waxed poetic about how much I loved cleaning and the smell of the spring air, she dusted and listened. Finally when I took a deep breath she said, "Well, that just goes to show how different people can be!"