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Even I would love washing
dishes in this gorgeous sink.
Note the price tag: $2650.00

Washing the Dishes

425 words


How to deal with a reluctant teen
by Dianne Roth

If my mother were still alive, she would tell you that, as a teen, I subscribed to Calvin’s Philosophy of Chores.

In a particular cartoon strip, Calvin is shoveling snow. Mind you, not the walk nor the driveway, but a pathway to nowhere. Worse, he has left large snow piles behind the car and on the front step. He says to Hobbs, “If you do a job badly enough, sometimes you don’t get asked to do it again.”

My job was washing the dishes. I hated it. I hated it so much that it would take me two hours to wash the evening dishes. And, according to my mother, many of the dishes weren’t even clean! I was convinced if I did the job badly enough, I would be replaced with an automatic dishwasher.

Unlike Calvin, I never got out of doing the dishes. I had to keep at it until they were all clean. We had endless dark clouds hanging over our real life comic strip.

Years later, I got that dishwasher. No surprise, I was still doing dishes…. stacking, rinsing, loading, and putting them away. Not a lot different from what I disliked as a teen, except for the noise it made.

I was thinking of those days as I was washing dishes last night. I have not had a dishwasher in my home for over 30 years. And (my mother would be so shocked), I like it that way.

Dishwashing, in fact, is one of the few times my hands are warm. The actual washing doesn’t take much more time than rinsing and loading. And, the final wipe down of the counter is so satisfying.

I can whip through a kitchen-full of dinner party dishes in pretty good time and my dirty dish count is remarkably low.

I still don’t “like” doing dishes, but standing in the kitchen with my hands in warm water, dirty dishes changing into clean, quietly watching the world go by my window, it seems like a small thing to get worked up about.

I am not able to admit to my mother that I have stirrings of regret about my tenacious resistance to a necessary chore. In fact, if it hadn’t been the dishes, it probably would have been something else. I guess that is the nature of teens.

I do wish, though, that I could tell her I am glad she was my mother. If I’d had Calvin’s parents, I might still be doing jobs badly enough to not get asked to do them again.


Dianne Roth is a teacher, mother, grandmother, and freelance writer. She lives in Oregon.




Last updated on October 8, 2012