My review of Laura Vanderkam's 168 Hours sounds a little grumpy, but it was very much worth the read. Although I walked through her core competencies exercise skeptically, I still remember the frisson of understanding that hit me when I thought, "Folding laundry is not one of my core competencies." I have been working ever since on teaching the boys to share the load(s).
Some aspects of this plan work better than others. To tell the truth, I often wind up re-folding pieces of my clothing so they will fit more neatly in my drawers. Perhaps a sterner mother would crack the whip and make them keep doing it until it was done properly, but I am not that mother. I can live with that.
The thing that's more exasperating is the mis-sorted laundry. I often hear someone asking, "Why is this in my pile?" The more pressing question for me has become: "Why was this not in my pile?" I don't usually find kids' clothing in my own stack of laundry, but over recent months I have noticed a worrisome exodus from my bottom drawer. My khakis? Vanished. My nice black pants, the one with a size clearly printed in the waistband that makes no sense for any child in this house? Disappeared. My comfortable jeans? Ether-ified.
I wonder sometimes if it's a conspiracy. I picture the three oldest boys huddled together, whispering, "If we abscond with all of her pants, maybe we won't have to fold any more laundry!" I keep thinking that I should bite the bullet: march upstairs, pull out the dresser drawers, and sort masterfully into "keep," "hand down," "toss," and "MINE, DERNIT, AND DID YOU REALLY THINK THESE WOULD FIT A 12-YEAR-OLD BOY?" I bet that stern whip-cracking mother, the one who doesn't tolerate lumpy sleeves, would have tackled this problem already. Maybe she would have a better system to prevent mis-sorting, like color-coded laundry labels in the waistbands. Maybe she would have monthly dresser inspections in which holey shirts and too-short pants are confiscated and turned into rags, or perhaps memory quilts bound with her hand-sewn bias tape and excess industry.
Probably she would not be playing the clip from The Lego Movie for her easily amused children, while they insist that her missing pants must have been eaten by the dust bunnies.