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There’s a battle of wills that takes place in our house over the dishwasher. The first shot fired is usually in the sink, where base camp has been set up and troops are stationed, hoping to be deployed to their next assignment. Deserters can be found on the counter, and in other regions of the house: AWOL or fallen out of step with other members of their ranks. The reluctant leaders, strategizing, weighing their options, but never initiating the next phase in the house cleaning war. All infantry are left in limbo, without a directive for the next stage of attack. Pandemonium exists and order is never restored.

IMG_0427That is my take on the delivery of dishes into the dishwasher, the box in the kitchen, once revered for its amazing capabilities to cut back on the chores of a housewife. In our house it’s not honored, it’s ignored. The dishwasher was crudely introduced in the 1850s, and later made a splash at the 1893 World’s Fair. This wonderful contraption would go into production and become a staple in most kitchens, by the 1950s, launching the appliance giant KitchenAid. Our current dishwasher, coincidently, is also a KitchenAid.

This underappreciated appliance is a modern marvel. My husband grew up without one and sometimes forgets we have one, he disagrees with me on this. My kid’s arms don’t rotate enough apparently to move a dish from point A to B. Everyone can get to point A, most of the time. Miracles happen daily, and the dishes do magically get into the dishwasher to be cleaned. Then the next stage in the battle is set: out of the dishwasher and into the cabinets. This process is played out repeatedly, with no metals of valor being awarded. The only boots on the ground, are mine. I am sure, I am not alone in this.

When I grew up, my mother assigned us dishwasher duty. As we got older, including to this day, if there were dishes on the counter, around the house needing to be put away; she was the drill sergeant. If she says move, you move. (At 80 we all still fear her.) I do not have that power over the enlisted in my house, so I do it. (My husband has a different take on this.) I know exactly where I went wrong. I never insisted, or shared the power struggle that goes on in the kitchen, and the rest of the house for that matter. When raising kids, there wasn’t a chore chart to be seen, and allowances were not earned, money was handed out like vitamins. I grew up with structure and hated it. Which is probably why it works. I wanted everyone to be on the merit system. Well, the old-school approach works, the merit system has failed.

Our son, who we love having around, is part of the boomerang generation. He is very good at keeping petrified food scraps solidified to utensils and plates. Placed down like his clothes, wherever he decides to stop, around the house. And I mean everywhere. I started reading this book, called, “Surviving Adult Children Living at Home,” by Christina Newberry. I downloaded it onto my Kindle. I need to restore order in the house, so a few guidelines will be helpful, because fighting or repetitive requests for help, does nothing.  According to the author, we need to set up a contract with our adult children. The service at home is good: meals, laundry, cleaning, cable. I would eagerly exchange that for getting the dishes put away. I want my relationship with my kids to remain healthy, these are important years to value, as much as the growing years.

Change is in the air and I am not sure how well it will be received!

4 Replies to “Dishwasher Deserters”

  1. Yes, yes and YES! All of the above!! The invisible dishwasher…. ! How do those clean dishes you deliciously dine upon happen? I share in your struggle and am also guilty of setting up our kids by not requiring more of them. That ship sailed for me as they are home only infrequently. My wish / hope is that as life requires more of them, the dim lightbulb will shine with appreciation and gratitude. If it doesn’t… we will leave our dishes all about their homes. 🙂 Not really..but one can fantasize… 🙂

  2. Good luck with your contract idea. Let me know if it works. My kids used to have chores but once they went away to college they learned all kinds of habits never exhibited before, especially leaving dirty dishes all over the house. So annoying.

    1. I bought the book and started reading it. So very informative. I’m affraid to go on strike, it may be worse than I bargained for! Thanks for reading! 🙂

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