My youngest son is a laundry fiend.
This morning, I separated the clothes mountain into two piles; the darks went in the wash. He was not best pleased.
What he most loves to do is hang the clothes. He dips into the basket, hands us one item at a time. He waits for us to say, Thank you, Larry, then watches as we peg it on the line or put it on the drying rack. Piece by piece. Thank you by thank you. It is a slow job, but his contribution makes light of the load.
Ek oo, he prompts if our gratitude remains unspoken. Open-handed, the tips of his fingers pat his chin before extending out; this Makaton sign a visual reminder we’ve forgotten our good grace. Thanksgiving is a vital element of this game.
He made a cross sound as I shut the machine and started the cycle.
Fortunately, the lights and coloureds remained in the basket. We left the tumbling clothes in the garage, closed the door and set the basket down.
Content, he pulled out dirty pants and socks and T-shirts and piled them onto the floor.
The next thing I knew, he was in the kitchen trying to drag the collapsed indoor drying rack into the lounge. He’d managed to inch it out before I fully twigged what he was up to. The drying rack is 93cm high. At last measure, Larry was a lot less.
But this fella was determined; on a mission. I could either watch him struggle, or offer my assistance.
Learning from the Inside Out
I brought the drying rack through and set it up, before going back to the business of moving the tat from the floor so I could hoover (I know; it is a glamorous life I lead!).
Larry made another cross noise. He didn’t want me to hoover the house; he wanted me to play the game.
I’m not hanging that, Larry. It’s dirty!
I left him to it. When I glanced over minutes later, there he was, hanging unwashed washing on the dryer.
A new skill.
An example of what my friend calls ‘inside out education’, this was self-directed, self-motivated; borne of innate curiosity and desire.
My two older children never had this much interest in the washing. I would (literally) make a song and dance of the job, but they couldn’t have cared less.
Laundry, it seems, is something that my youngest has a natural predilection for. Maybe he likes the feel of the various cloths. Maybe he likes creating order out of chaos. Who knows?
Exactly how this thread will unfurl in his grown-up world is anyone’s guess.
And that, dear Reader, is part of the mystery.
None of us knows what life learnings another soul requires.
We can catch glimpses.
We can get a flash of the future; a fleeting image of our young, prematurely aged through gesture or stance.
But, mostly, life is retrospective—it is only on looking back that we see a life that makes sense. The dots join.
We can never truly know what another needs. But, “what is right, for right now?” is a good place to start.
May you hear your life call this week.
Much love, Angela xo