Mommy, can I help you fold the laundry?

Ok, I’ve been known to moan and complain about the 3yo right here at Javaline. He’s certainly had me at my wits’ end a few times, that’s for sure. You can read about it here and here and here if you want.

Occasionally however, I do say good things about him. Like here. I even have pictures in this one!

Well, tonight, he did it again. He had me proud and relieved that he is the way he is. And it reinforced once again that my staying at home to raise him is the best thing for him, and for our family.

What’s really sad is that while I feel all this pride and happiness, I also comiserate with a young girl of 16 years who is in such psychological state that she has locker herself into a room at her maternal grandmother’s house, skips school, and refuses to speak to anyone, all because of a very nasty divorce that happened between her two very unhappy parents.

This girl is a distant cousin of mine, living within driving distance from here. We have little contact, although my mom has more contact with the girl’s grandmother than anyone else within our family.  The girl’s grandmother is the wife of my mom’s deceased cousin, which is why she maintains contact with her.

It was the grandmother that had a lot of influence in the way the girl, and her younger sister, were raised. And in my eyes, they were raised completely wrong.

I can be so presumptuous here and use the word wrong because I know the intricate details of what has resulted in this teenage girl’s unhappiness.

How this all connects with my pride and joy, aka 3yo Benjamin, is due to a basket full of laundry.

Yes. Laundry.

You see, the teenage girl grew up with distracted parents who were forever bribed and blackmailed into doing things the way grandma wanted it. Bribed with deep, deep pockets. You can never move away from here because I want to be a part of the childrens’ lives. You have to get a house in this subdivision because yadayadayada. You must send the girls to catholic school for such and such a reason. Here, I will pay for their x, y and z. No, you can’t continue driving this car, let me buy you a new one. No, you can’t trust other people to drive the kids to here and there, I’ll have to do it even though I’m sick and old. No, don’t allow the girls to play outside, she could get sunburned, pick up bad habits, kidnapped, bladibla.

This is how it went for all of their lives.

As a result, the teenage girl now has very little practical skills. She basically takes care of herself, and even that is questionable. Taking care of herself as far as she’s concerned means taking a shower using expensive shampoos someone else bought for her, and calling Swiss Chalet for dinner.

None of this is her fault. She has no role models. She is what she is because of how she was raised.

I mean, most people I know can, by the age of 16, take a bus, apply for a part-time job, go out with friends to movies without your own family insisting on driving you to or from the place, go to sleepovers, go to camp, or even walk to a neighbour’s house or play outside without direct supervision.

This girl was not allowed to do any of this.

What she was allowed to do was go to the spa and get a manicure. And pay for it with a credit card belonging to, who knows, probably grandma.

She can’t make tea. She might know how to microwave an instant meal, but I doubt she can boil water to cook pasta in.

Oh, she knows how to chat in chatrooms. Or how to text friends, because of course she has a cell phone, deemed a necessity by grandma in case she ever gets lost (at school? where she gets dropped off by some family member?). She knows how to apply nail polish or makeup. She knows how to ask for a specific shade of hair colour at the salon. She knows how to order food from a fast food joint.

I doubt she has a library card, or ever volunteered anywhere. I doubt she’s ever been skating with friends without someone supervising her. God forbit someone suggests she get a part-time job. AND take the bus there.

I seriously doubt that she can do her own laundry.

Which brings me back to Benjamin.

Tonight, I’m sitting on the couch, watching Laverne and Shirley, surrounded by  massive amounts of clean laundry. Benjamin arrives, sees the folded pile of clothes beside me, the still full basket at my feet, and says “Mommy, can I help you with that?”.

I practically smothered him with hugs and kisses! (Well, not really. I WANTED to though…)

Of course I said yes. No time like the present to teach a child that folding clothes takes work.

At first, he was content to help me find the matching socks. Then, watching me fold towels and t-shirts, he asked if he could do that too. So I demonstrated how to fold a pillow case. He watched, very intently, then copied me.

He was so proud. And immediately asked me which pile he should put it on.

I told him to start a pillow case pile. He did all the pillow cases, and I left them crooked and all, on the pile. At one point, he even asked if he could refold one of the pillow cases, because “this is not a good enough job”.

‘course you can, darlin!

Then came the pants. I demonstrated how to fold his trackpants by folding one leg over the other, then folding the entire thing in half. He did it perfectly, then wanted to do daddy’s longjohns.

THAT was an exercise….took him a good 10 minutes, required half the livingroom floor, doghair and pine needles and all, but he did it (well, sort of. But it doesn’t matter, it’s only longjohns.)

As I’m folding and watching him work so seriously and intently, I can’t help but think of what it would be like if I were working full-time outside the home. Would I have a moment like this with him? I would think probably not since folding laundry isn’t my favorite activity and really, getting it done quickly would probably be my priority what with having less time at home rather than more. I’d probably also do most of the laundry after his bedtime.

Or maybe not. I don’t know. All I know is that this shared moment not only helped me feel wonderful and warm and fuzzy inside, but it also taught the boy a life skill. I seriously doubt that he’ll forget how to fold trackpants, what with all the practice he’s had tonight!

And I feel proud that he asked to help, helped until the job was finished, and showed pride in his work.

No deep pockets here, I tell you.

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