This weekend I got a lesson in laundry, not once but twice.
The kids concocted this game where they turn on the hosepipe which happens to be conveniently situated next to the trampoline, which has been setup on a very sandy area. You can put two and two together here.
As you can imagine I have lost count at the number of times I’ve had drowned rats standing at my front door, or worse, footprint shaped mud marks leading a path all the way through the house, on my rugs, tiles and the plush white carpet in my bedroom through to my shower.
I’ve moved the towels location closer to the front door, but I still have the problem of wet towels and mud covered clothes decorating my bathroom floor. Needless to say, but for the sake of your amusement I’ll go ahead anyway… I raged like a bear with a splinter who also stubbed it’s toe, hit it’s head, had a hangover, was hangry and hadn’t slept all winter.
It’s funny, the only time the kids listen to me is when I’m mute. They think something is wrong and stress. But if I’m stomping around the house sounding like the aforementioned bear… no one bats an eyelid. No one.
I was very proud of my tirade on the importance of hanging up wet towels and soggy clothes, especially if the game is going to be repeated several times during the day. Monica wouldn’t even have had enough towel categories to satisfy the situation. But a tirade means nothing if I end up doing it all myself so I am tying to make a concerted effort to teach and it’s easier to teach laundry than multiplication and division. Or so I thought.
“Aiden please hang up all the towels on the clothesline in the laundry area”
Those were my exact words.
So what did I find once all was said and done?
ALL the towels on the line, on top of each other, on top of the clothes that were already on the line and almost dry. And the soggy clothes on the floor.
My laundry lesson turned around and bit me in the arse.
Ok, so what I haven’t explained yet is that my boy is on the autism spectrum. Very slight, hardly noticeable to most people, but then that’s why it’s a spectrum. However it is noticeable to me and causes most of our explosive eruptive fights when I am not explicitly clear on my instructions. In between my words is a crater wide gap filled with assumptions and when I’m cross or triggered by chaos and mess around me, all my logical reasoning, calmness and clearheadedness vanishes.
“Aiden please hang up all the towels on the clothesline in the laundry area.” – I could have done better. Maybe “please hang up the wet towels and wet clothes on the laundry line, next to each other spaced out where there is free space on the line”
It seems obvious to me what I had meant when I first asked, and I’m sure it is to a lot of people, but to others, it is not obvious. I used to think Aiden was being cheeky, or insolent or just trying to piss me off on purpose, but he’s not. He didn’t understand. He interpreted it his way and that wasn’t my way. Hence the heated arguments that usually ensued.
From my side, I got a double whammy of a messy house, and when I asked for it to be sorted, it was made worse by messing up already clean dry laundry I had just done. And then to top it off I was angry at my boy when I was really angry at myself. I had set him up to fail. I expected something from him which he had not done before and I was disappointed at not having met my high standards. Ok livid would be a more accurate description. (Side note: It’s a new house, with a different place where things are hung up etc, and we didn’t even have water accessible in the garden, never mind a hosepipe so we never had an issue like this to address)
Fast forward 24 hours, and what did I do? The exact same thing again. Repeat of above trampoline game, wet towels, soggy clothes full of sand. To be fair he had picked everything up and was asking what he should do with it all as there was now no space on the line. I was tired, hangry and annoyed and so quipped “Please just put it all in a pile in the laundry area so I can sort it all out tomorrow”, knowing this was the last round of the game for the weekend.
What did I find?
The poor boy had put the pile of muddy clothes on top of my basket pile of clean dry laundry.
Serves me right I guess.
In between my hyperventilating, and his tears I tried to explain the issue. He kept repeating he didn’t know, he didn’t know. And he was right, again. How was anyone except me to know that it was a pile of clean laundry and not a pile of dirty laundry to sort. I didn’t tell anyone. No one except me knows my new housework system. Hell, I’m still getting into the swing of things, hence me doing the washing all weekend, in prep for ironing on a Monday. I haven’t included the kids in the process because I’m annoyingly anal about how I like things done my way.
I complain that no one helps me clean up, but I never ask for help until I’m overwhelmed and surrounded by cups, shoes and blankets, odd socks and then the bear emerges.
Going forward I need to stop assuming that others automatically know what’s going on and how I expect things done. And while on that subject I need to lower my expectations, considerably. I thought they were low, but to a 9 year old boy eager to please his mom, they were unattainably high. I need to explain things clearly and step by step. I need to be more inclusive with the kids helping me out and ….I need to breathe, breathe breathe … big deep breaths …before reacting.
Who knew that a huge pile of laundry could offer such deep lessons?