Last week we started the allowance thing, and I have delegated certain chores for my ten-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter. A chart hangs on the wall listing their daily chores for the week, with the incentive of a $5 payday each Saturday if everything on the list has been completed. Of course, that is before .50 is tithed, .50 is paid for "tax" (to be used later for something fun), and $1 is put away, never to be seen in dollar-bill form again. But money is a great motivator in our house and has worked very well so far - even though it's only been one week.
So it's Zach's first time for laundry duty and I call him over to give him brief training on how to separate the darks from the lights. The laundry room hamper, Zach's personal hamper, as well as his sister's, are full of clothes to be sorted. I'm thinking he'll be a while, and I turn my attention to the dishes.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see movement by the counter next to the stove, right outside of the laundry room. Immediately my senses are on alert and I swing around.
"What are you doing?" I ask, narrowing my eyes.
"Nothing," he says a little too quickly. Nothing always means something, so I persist.
"You either just took something off from or put something onto the counter. What is it?" I scan the counter and don't see anything out of the ordinary, but Zach's face is a canvas of guilt and I can't help wondering what my sneaky son is up to.
Slowly, he pulls a wooden spoon out from behind his back. Ah-ha! He must have confiscated it from the utensil holder on the counter!
But wait. What in the world is he doing with a wooden spoon?
"So...are you going to tell me what you're doing with that spoon?" I ask.
He looks at me solemnly and beckons me over. I pad to the laundry room and watch in amazement at his newly discovered use for my spaghetti sauce stirer.
Zach carefully reaches his hand into his sister's laundry hamper and pulls out a pair of underwear, now dangling limply from the spoon.
"I'M not touching it..." he says.
I throw my head back, laugh and tell him to put the spoon in the sink when he is finished.
Creativity is one of my son's gifts and I can't say I blame him for coming up with that latest creative use for a basic kitchen utensil. But I will say that this was probably the only time in his life he was concerned about getting his hands dirty.
Since then, I have seriously considered keeping a spoon on the dryer - either to use when the need arises or just to give me a good laugh when the clothes are piling up and I come down with the laundry blues...
As they say, "it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it."