Life is rarely dull when you have sixteen year old boy in the house.
Now I feel obliged to preface this by saying that Jonathan is typically a very well balanced, good-natured, hard working teenager. But yet hormones and adrenaline along with a constant need to be independent causes dilemmas. Yesterday was a typical point in case.
Having just turned sixteen it was mutually decided that he should play a more active role in housework- particularly when it comes to cleaning up after himself.
The first thing he wanted to do was his own laundry.
“After all how hard could it be right?” He often said with a non-committal, well rehearsed, shrug.
He has been putting his own laundry away now for sometime- transferring the neatly folded garments to be hung in his not quite as neat closet.
As he dragged his clothes basket downstairs I reminded him of the few basics.
Firstly empty all your pockets!
Over the years I had reclaimed many an item from those pockets. Everything from high end items such as cell phones to I-pods, to food items including half eaten candy bars and chewing gum, to art supplies including ink pens and crayons to various bugs.
Secondly separate the clothes into three piles, whites, colors and darks.
Thirdly turn all pants inside out and zipper and button them.
And fourthly watch the temperature and speed of the wash!
Yesterday Jonathan was in a good mood. At eight ‘Dancing with the Stars, was coming on featuring his pin up girl of the moment Shawn Johnson. At seven I was listening to Tom Jones, drinking a Guinness and preparing dinner. My two recently fed dogs lolled by my feet as I worked. I was singing and dancing as I did it…What can I tell you.
Jonathan rolled his eyes at me.
He is especially good at that.
“Remember what I told you!”
I said in-between Delilah and Green Green Grass of home.
“Dinner is in ninety minutes at 7:30 so we can be all finished by 8:00 to watch the show.”
All went seemingly well.
The house was filled with the splendiferous aromas of home made beef pot pies, a cheddar cheese sauce was made to anoint the steamed cauliflower, and I was on my third beer.
After forty minutes Jonathan transferred his clothes to the dryer, and then vanished upstairs to his room to do whatever sixteen year old boys do behind their closed bedroom doors.
At seven twenty he came downstairs to put his clothes away in readiness to eat in ten minutes.
“Dad there is a problem!” He said with that note of urgency in his voice that makes my tummy wiggle in dread filled anticipation.
“Oh?” I answered taking a gulp of beer. I headed over to the laundry room and peered into the dryer. Covering the drum was what appeared to be a packet of chewing gum that had stuck in about a hundred spots all around the inside.
I looked inside the washing machine next and retrieved several coins, pencils, and several candy wrappers.
“Did you empty the pockets?” I said
He stared at me blankly.
I repeated the question.
“I guess not,” he said as his gaze hit the cold tiled floor.
I then looked at the load of laundry he had thrown into the basket.
It was a mixed load.
White T-shirts had been mixed with new blue jeans, underwear and black towels.
He no-longer owns an actual white T-shirt.
His grey skinny jeans and his blue skinny jeans now looked a very similar color.
He looked at his clothes and then timidly peered up at me.
I told him that after dinner he was going to have to clean it up.
“B-b-b-but,” he stammered. “That’s not fare. It was an accident.”
I reminded him of what I told him before he did the washing.
“But I thought my way would be quicker…” he said as his gaze once more slipped away from mine.
“Come eat your dinner,” I said.
“NO!” he replied forcefully. His face was now red and I could see him trying to fight back tears.
“I am going to clean it up now!”
With that he went and got a scrubbing sponge and spent the next hour rubbing away furiously inside the dryer.
Afterwards I asked him to eat.
By this point dancing with the stars had started and his mother had come home, to the tense scenario, and was about to eat also.
“I am not hungry,” he said. With that he picked up his plate, scraped it into the trash, and raced upstairs to his room.
We left him there, knowing that he needed to get his head around what had just happened.
About twenty minutes later, just before Shawn performed, he passively slipped back downstairs and sat on the couch.
After Shawn’s performance he was smiling again. But trying to hide it.
“How about a sandwich?” I offered.
“Not hungry,” he said.
Last night he stayed up until eleven with me, his mom retired up the wooden hill at ten. He knew that my current favorite show “castle,” started at ten. He never stays up late during a school night.
After watching the show he went up stairs to bed in silence. I know that was his way of saying he was sorry.
When he came home today he was on usual best behavior again.
He even told me that I dance like Tom Jones.
When I asked about my singing he laughed and said.
“I wouldn’t push it!”
Author P.S. Gifford