Journey to the Center of the Laundry Room

I love our laundry chute.

It?s getting the clothes back upstairs that?s difficult.

But my child told me it’s really about capitalism.

My son, 16, who we will call ?Seth,? has a busy schedule.

And so do I.

I am not one of those moms who folds and puts away clothes for her children (or for anyone else.) My kids both know how to run a washing machine, open an ironing board and keep an iron moving. That is not to say they ever practice these skills ? or that they know how to unplug an iron and fold the ironing board back up.

When I used to put a laundry basket in Seth?s room he would, as evidenced by clean clothes ending up back in the dirty laundry bin, burrow into the basket for whatever he needed, scattering the other things on the floor.

So I stopped taking the basket upstairs. In fact, I stopped sorting clothes entirely. The laundry went out of the dryer or off the line straight onto a large folding table in our basement.

So Seth, when he gets out of the shower, now tromps through the house to the basement wearing nothing but a towel, to browse through the pile on the table to find clothes every morning. He is slightly more disciplined than his older brother, who we will call ?Chauncey.? Chauncey is now off at college and I have no idea about, or concern for, his laundry habits. I gave up on Chauncey a few years ago.

When he lived here, Chauncey?s wet towel could be found on the laundry room floor. He apparently simplified the process to the point he was getting dressed in the laundry room.

Seth, at 16, is still one step up from the bottom. He can be glimpsed retreating up the stairs every morning, one hand clutching the towel closed around his waist, the other burdened with the day?s clothing choices.

I know I still have a chance with Seth.

When I told Seth yesterday as he was driving me home from school, that I had finally washed a load of socks, he sounded happy to hear it. I took advantage of his happy mood to suggest he could maybe put the socks in his drawer.

His mood switched quickly.

?Mom, the dresser is just a middleman,? he said. ?It?s corporate greed.?

I thought this was pretty astute so I conceded the point.

He may bottom out soon, but that?s fine with me. Just so long as he gets the bigger picture.

By Maile

Maile Field is a writer living in Northern California. Born in Hawaii and raised in Montana, she earned her master of fine arts in nonfiction at George Mason University in Virginia. She encourages constructive criticism.