Monday, January 28, 2008

Thoughts on dishwashing

It sounds fascinating, doesn't it? One of the aspects of using our temporary kitchen that I was least looking forward to was the absence of a dishwasher. Doing the dishes has never been my favorite task and the thought of all the dishes involved in serving 3 meals a day times 8 people was a bit daunting. But over the course of the week I have had a slight change of heart. First, it turns out that all the children love to do dishes...all of it, washing, rinsing, drying. (They're not so keen on the putting away, but I don't mind that.) There have even been some altercations over whose turn it was to wash. I should clarify: over who gets to wash. Even TM and D have done a sink full of dishes. They aren't as fast as some of the older ones, and a little bit more water ends up on the ground, but they get it done and it occupies them for a good chunk of time. We'll see how long this all lasts, as we're only a week into this adventure. It still feels a bit like playing house. Remind me to revisit the dish washing issue come mid-May.

I have also discovered that washing dishes by hand forces you to slow down. You can't just throw them all in the dishwasher and run off to the next activity. Sure, you can run off to the next activity, but those dishes will still be there. Before the general use of dishwashers, I'm sure that most people didn't base commitments on whether they would be able to get the dishes done, but I think there was a different awareness about what there was time for. Instead of giving us time to use to spend with our families, these time-saving devices merely give us more time to fill with activities and outside obligations. I read somewhere that there were those who mourned the advance of electricity in houses. Initially I was surprised at the idea of not being thoroughly thrilled at electricity. But the point was, with all rooms being able to be lighted equally, there was nothing that forced the family members to remain in the same room together. With ease of lighting, came a loss of togetherness.

The biggest benefit I have discovered is the companionship. The whole process goes more quickly if there is more than one person doing the job. It becomes a wonderful time for conversation, particularly with the young adults in my life. I've heard it said that riding in the car is a great time to connect with an adolescent because the parent and child are together, but because the parent is driving it is a less intense conversational mode. It is a way bring up topics that might be too uncomfortable otherwise. I think that washing dishes together provides the same atmosphere. Together, but engaged in an activity that allows for conversation without being overly intense.

And now, to reward you for getting this far, proof that 4 and 5 year old brothers can do the dishes:

1 comment:

maxhelcal said...

Oh, that picture is too cute!

I think you're right on track about the time spent together too. It does seem like we are always trying to get things done and crossed off the "to do" list instead of enjoying the task at hand together. Though, I still am not giving up my dishwasher! ha ha

Some of the best conversations had in our family are down in my laundry room as I iron and fold.

~Michelle

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