A Boy Becomes a Man

dirty laundry

This past weekend I taught my son to do his own laundry. Well, I tried to. Yes, I know, he’s eighteen and should have been doing it himself for a while now. I have no good excuse really, other than he spends half his time at his dad’s house and well, it’s just been easier for me to keep track of his clothes this way. Lame excuse, but it’s all I have.

It went well. The concept of sorting seemed to confuse him a bit but once we got past that I think he caught on. I still have my doubts as to whether he will actually remember to go back and move the wet clothes into the drier. There’s a big empty space of time between washer and dryer that could suck him back into the vortex of YouTube videos and Game of Thrones episodes. He will learn. Damp socks and underwear are no fun.

He’s already pretty good at feeding himself. Given the right ingredients he can actually make a decent meal. FYI – Having a girlfriend is a huge incentive to learn how to cook. Apparently teenage girls swoon over boys who can cook. I don’t think a boy cooked for me until I was well into my twenties. He has been making his own school lunches since he was in grade six. I did get some pushback on that one.

Him: I don’t have to do this at my dad’s house.
Me: That’s too bad buddy. Make your lunch.

I suppose I could just keep doing all this stuff for him. It might be easier in the short-term. Realistically though, one day I won’t be around to pick up his dirty socks or the towel he leaves on the bathroom floor. I won’t be around to make him breakfast or a snack after work. He will need to know how to do this stuff himself. He will, eventually, move out. Won’t he?

I’ve always known that I wanted him to be self-sufficient. I don’t want him to be the thirty year old man that doesn’t know how to boil water. But what’s more important is that he needs to know that HE can do this stuff. He needs to feel independent. It’s actually not that much different from when he first went to the bathroom on his own. He needs to do it alone and I need to trust that he will. (We are still working on the toilet flushing component of this by the way)

It feels like it’s one of the last steps towards independence. A last-minute check before he becomes a man. A man. My son is a man. A man who can make his own meals and wash his own clothes. No, no. I’m not getting sentimental and weepy. Okay, maybe a little.  Really I’m proud and happy that we have made it this far.

The Best Thing in Life is that I still have my seven-year old daughter to fulfill my need for someone to mother. She doesn’t know it yet but she will be helping to ease me into the whole empty nest thing.


School has been out for two months. Add to that the two weeks of teachers strike and you have 75 joyous days my daughter and I have spent together this summer. Don’t get me wrong, she has been in some awesome summer camps that have given me the time to enjoy the incredible summer we have had in Vancouver this year and her some great experiences. When the weather is good I can not stand to be inside and as a result my house tends to get a little out of order (and dirty) during the summer months. So here it is September 2 and it’s raining. My husband and daughter are at the hardware store and I have a couple of hours in the house alone. Will I nap? Watch some tennis? No, I will putter.

Putter (verb) To be active, but not excessively busy, at a task or a series of tasks.

That sum it up for me. I am a putterer. Not sure that is a real word but it works for now. My husband also calls it busy work. Given a Sunday morning (or afternoon for that matter) with nothing really pressing to do, he will chose the sofa, football and, eventually, a nap. I will find something to do. There’s always something to do isn’t there? Dust, sort the art supplies, go through my kids clothes and put away what doesn’t fit them anymore, make a list (this is my favorite), search for a recipe, send an email about having coffee with somebody next week. The list is endless. Laundry is the ultimate task for a putterer because it can be done anytime. There always seems to be laundry to do. And it’s a process, which I love. I am starting to sound a tad crazy aren’t I? Sort, wash, dry, fold and put away. Is there a term for what I have?

There has always been a certain comfort for me being in my home and being able to sort or tidy things up with no deadline or end game. Perhaps tackle something I’ve been putting off. There’s no hurry to do it, but it keeps my mind busy and somewhere down the road I will appreciate the fact that it is done. Even if I do sit down to watch TV I rarely sit through a whole show without getting up to do something else. I have noticed this in my daughter as well. As a child, my son could, and still can, sit motionless for hours watching TV. I have often thought that the house could burn down around him and he still would not move. My daughter, like me, has to be doing something else while she is watching TV. Sorting her beads, making a bracelet, coloring or perhaps dancing.

But I have come to realize over the past thirteen years of living with my husband, that there is a lot to be said for stopping and smelling the roses, so to speak. It really is okay to just let some stuff slide. In fact, it can be quite therapeutic. I think that is why this blog has been good for me. It has forced me to stop “puttering” occasionally and focus on something. Wait, that’s not totally true. If I’m being honest I will admit that I often stop writing and do some small task that really could wait. It’s just not in me to let it go. Since starting this post I have emailed a friend to make plans for a day trip next week, called my husband to see if my darling daughter wants to go for a hike when they get home from the store and unloaded the dishwasher.

A I sit writing this I glance around the room and see half a dozen things I could be doing. I see that the sun is out and think “we should go for a hike”. But after a long hot summer I should be quite happy to just be writing again. And really, as I finish a post I do get a similar feeling as to when I finish a task around the house. Like a nice little present has had the bow stuck on top of it. I am very fortunate that I CAN do this. Having a home to putter in and a kitchen table to write at makes me very happy. Having the still developing ability to just “be” makes me even happier. The Best Things in Life is being a work in progress.