Sunday, March 11, 2012

laundry and control

Today was laundry day. A lot of laundry day. Mounds and mounds of laundry day. I started last night, but when you have 5-6-7 loads, it is a slow affair.

Last night, 7 yo had a sleepover at a friend's house. 5 yo was not pleased, to put it mildly. So this morning, I only had two kids at home. And mounds of laundry. I decided to ask 5 yo to help me fold towels. I showed him how to fold them in thirds one way and then in thirds the other way. He did a few. I showed him how to fold pants; he said he already knows how to fold them. He put away the clothes that he folded. And I was still left with slightly smaller mounds of laundry.

Laundry is my last area of control. Before kids, I loved doing laundry. I liked clean feel of warm clothes, straight from the dryer. I liked perfectly aligned corners of towels, shirts folded like in a store, perfectly matched socks, each pair neatly tucked. Now I dread laundry. The reasons: there is a whole lot more of it. The hampers are never empty. Kids's shirts do not stay folded neatly. Boys occasionally stick in clean clothes into laundry (it falls on the floor and then it ends up in the hamper).

Why am I not delegating laundry?

Why do I still care about perfectly aligned corners?

Why am I not letting go?

My 5 yo is perfectly capable of folding towels. They will be clean; they will be in the right spot, they just won't look like we live in a hotel. The rest of my house does not look like a hotel; moreover, I do not want it looking like a hotel; why don't I relinquish control here?

Moving onto the bigger picture: 7 yo finished reading Story of the World on his own. I was planning to read it with him together, stop after every chapter, discuss, supplement, etc. Now that he read it, and keeps on rereading it on his own, there is a controlling part of me which feels that I have not done a good job here. It wants me to believe that the only way to provide a child with knowledge is to process it first, with adult's presence and assistance. Deep down, I am worried that now he has more history at his fingertips than I. Deep down, I am worried that he has been presented with history from a different perspective than I would agree with. Deep down, I want to be viewed as a source of his knowledge, not just as a passive facilitator. Deep down, I have a controlling issue.

I am taken back to my childhood. As quite a few Russian families, we had 10 volume set of Children's Encyclopedia, in an unforgettable burnt orange binding. This encyclopedia was published in the 50s, with a strong communist perspective. I was reading it in the 80s. It was outdated. It was biased. But it allowed me to choose which areas of knowledge I was interested in. Over the years, I could read up more about those areas. I was able to correct original misconceptions. But I was able to get knowledge on my own. I cannot imagine how it would have gone, were someone to sit me down and say: " Let's read this chapter, then discuss the misconceptions and then  my opinion on the subject". I would have lost desire to read!

So I have to let go. My kid might get a biased view of history. My laundry's imperfect condition might make me cringe. But my kids' desire to do more because they do it on their own will soar.

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