Counting

So come along now. Humour me for a moment. How many times do you change your clothes in any 24 hour period? Yes, I know that there might be a few variables in there. Depends upon which day you're talking about because Wednesday is gym day. [translation = attend 'work –out' place] On Thursdays you go to see a film. On Friday you might meet a few pals in the evening. Perhaps, if it's Winter, you forget your umbrella. You might experience a downpour. Life is full of little unexpecteds, as well as plans, that mean a change of clothes may be needed.

Laundry occupies more of my life than I anticipated. It’s hard not to notice, as it’s stacked in heaps all over the house. I have a tendency to complain about this job a good deal. I am very good at it, complaining that is, not laundry. When it comes to moaning, I have a head start on my contemporaries, because Brits are of a pessimistic nature. Where your American glass is half full, ours is definitely half empty. Indeed somebody probably stole the contents. Furthermore, when we find out who that somebody was, we'll remove their outer clothing, put itching powder in their underwear, and tie them to a lamppost. I suspect this kind of behaviour hasn't spread to America, due to a shortage of lampposts, as itching powder is freely available. I've checked. When it comes to prioritizing appropriate punishments, then public humiliation comes pretty high on the list. But I digress.

One average family can produce quite a lot of laundry. If you ignore the matter of wet beds, mop up towels, bath towels and the big stuff, you’re still left with considerable quantities of clothing. This is especially so, in Winter where more clothes are worn. Not only more clothes but they bigger ones, ones with a greater surface area due to long sleeves and legs. Socks become a necessity rather than an optional extra. Outer wear, in the form of jackets, coats, gloves and hats, also feature. All these items become dirty.

If they remained on people's bodies for longer than a nano second, it is just conceivable that they might become dirty on the inside. Fortunately for us, such an occurrence is rare. Instead they become dirty on the outside, often.

This is not because they are particularly naughty, they are only averagely naughty. Indeed it is quite often when they are trying especially hard to be 'good,' that they make the most dirt. We have reached the stage of development where occasionally, if I'm very lucky, someone might be persuaded to 'help.' Helping is a messy business, mainly due to the inefficiency of physically moving parts of the body, such as arms, legs and hands. On the whole these body parts refuse to act in concert, instead they prefer to work independently from one another, causing no end of chaos, angst and dirt.

Since teaching 'competence,' is also an ongoing campaign, the net result is of course, more laundry. This household is an ecological disaster area. If the environmentalists ever discover how much water and soap we use, we're likely to be deported to some remote island. There again, a remote island might not be too fussy about nudity. I could kill two birds with one cake of soap. Pass me a map somebody.


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Figure it out [translation = work it out together]

I dash back inside with armfuls of post [translation = mail] and dump it on the kitchen counter for later. My eye catches a postcard. Closer inspection reveals that it is an invitation to a party for the boys, but there are no details of when or where? Luckily I know who it is from, so I can phone later, obviously they were too busy to fill it out properly. [translation = spotty task completion by an adult]

I try something novel. “I'm going to wash the floor, you two can play together for 10 minutes in the family room.” [translation = thus far, 5 minutes ‘unsupervised or unstructured play’ is their absolute limit] They look at me with slumpy bodies but alert faces.

“Play? Wiv him?” They look at each other as if they've been asked to marry a stranger. [translation = no keeping of brothers around this neck of the woods] They marshal their combined forces;

“What play?” [translation = they agreed to the principal of playing with one another, but lack the impetus to start or the skill to choose a starting point] I shuffle them into the family room, which was strewn knee deep with toys just prior to their sisters departure. [translation = too ‘busy’ a scene for them to be able to distinguish items, which causes confusion] They take in the carpet, observe that there is not enough room to place one foot in front of the other. [translation = especially if motor planning isn’t one of your strengths]

“What we do?” he asks his little brother. [translation = acknowledges that they are related to one another]
“I don know. What we do?” [translation = horray! On the precipice of a joint enterprise.] They both turn to look at me as if I have the answer, but I'm not going to help them, “you figure it out,” I say turning on my heel mop in hand.

“Figure it out?” they both echo.

I mop the floor and listen carefully for any signs of progress in the family room. It's a slow start but they gradually warm to the concept of 'play.' After seven or eight minutes, I can tell that their ability to play has run out. I call “all finished! Come and choose your snacks.”

They bound into the kitchen, junior fiddles with the stack of mail whilst senior examines the contents of the cupboard. I supervise. It takes a while for him to decide what his body needs, so I take down a couple of bowls whilst he dithers. I hear a little voice behind me; 'please come to my party on Sunday da fird of September, time 1:30 to 3:30 love Elliott. What does 'RSVP' meaning?” I turn to see that junior has managed to open what I thought was a postcard.

It would appear that we all have our skills sets and deficiencies.

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