All moms should be divas...this one just happens to be in Jersey!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Laundry Angel

As a business owner and a mom, even when super sick I feel like a slacker taking a sick day. Nearly a week into a cold that is surely morphing into more, a bright spot has emerged more vibrant than the glow of my netbook on my lap when I conked out at 2pm, stronger than the smell of Vicks. Who knew child labor could have such an upside?

It all started way back yesterday when hubs and I were racking our brains over the way our kids blow through money. I know this is a common problem, not unique to our two. If you know any child with ADHD though, you know the impulsivity can wreak havoc on a child's cash flow and a parent's patience. Our 13yr old is beyond impulsive. If you give Son1 $10 he'll spend $12 in five minutes. He smuggled tons of cash to daycamp one time to buy a round of ice cream for him and 80 of his closest campers.

Though Son2 has ADHD also, his impulse control is fairly strong with money. By which I mean he's cheap. Really cheap. To his credit, he is industrious too. He's the child who wanted to move his lemonade stand to the neighbor's driveway for 5 cents of every cup sold when he saw more cars passing there. As a result he's a great saver. Here's the conundrum. He's a great saver with HIS money. Like most kids, he sees his bounty as his, and his parents as the means to cover basic needs like food, clothing, and sour patch-laced Coldstone Creamery.

We decided that we would increase their allowances since we hadn't since 2006. (How time flies!) But instead of a flat raise, we told them we thought they're old enough to take on more responsibility and that it was time they learned to do some things without being asked, nudged, cajoled, or screamed at. To that end, they would receive their allowances, and then if they did other things that they see hubs and I doing we would bonus them.

Son1 quickly calculated how many times he'd need to vacuum dog hair off the stairs to buy a Mustang GT when he drives. (Aim high!) Son2 asked if they would be taught to use any machines. I was coughing and sneezing already and just muttered, "sure." He then spent the next 3 hours asking hubs to show him the dishwasher since he said he already is tasked with emptying it, he might as well earn more. Son1 retreated to the playroom to play video games and dream of his windfall that would come if he ever gets off his butt. Son2 wandered through the house mysteriously for an hour muttering to himself about what he could do. "I'm too short to dust all the shelves... the dogs would drag me across the yard if I walked them (they've each got 30 lbs on him.)... I need an idea..."

And then, inspiration struck him and he came to me with words I never thought I'd hear, "Mom, can you show me the detergent amount and temperature setting for whites and darks. And for the dryer?" When you break this query down, there are several peaks. 1) He was taking out the big guns of chore-swiping, the laundry. 2) He knew he could reach all the components. 3) He already got that there were different temp settings for things (from where I've no idea) to expedite his learning curve. 4) He is fastidious so my things would be folded like an Old Navy training site opened downstairs.

He spent last night reading the detergent bottle for measurements. He asked me the ins and outs of stain removal. And then, he took over. And the best 24 congested hours of my life had begun.

He washed two loads and folded everything including the two unfolded ones I left. He ate his breakfast, got the backpack ready for school and scurried downstairs to do a quick load before school. After homework, he went right downstairs to the laundry room. I kept hearing his little feet scampering up and down the stairs as he emptied hampers, sorted, and cleaned. He asked about sheet stripping time lines. Like Harry Potter, I have a house elf.

Shortly before dinner time, I dosed off again into a cough syrup haze to be brought back to consciousness by a very soft voice leaning over me asking, "Do I use hot/cold or hot/warm or warm/warm for whites?" I was in a fog with an angelic voice offering to do laundry. Was I dreaming? There was a bright light emanating from his blond hair. "My God," I thought, "What's happened to me? I thought it was just a cold!" Then I realized it was just Son2 with the sconce lit behind his head. But seriously, taking over laundry so I can flop on the couch in my cold stupor classifies him as cherubim to me, quite possibly seraphim.

I know the novelty will wear off shortly, though with his entrepreneurial bent I give Son2 a better chance at keeping up with task-for-cash than a lot of kids. The upside is for today, and hopefully the next 36 hours, I do not need to see the laundry room and yet the clothes are not piling up. It's magical. I'm chalking the buzz up to that and not the Nyquil.