"I'm only going to the second grade!", was "Bea's" reply. I can hear my plan to, "Teach you how to do laundry, so you will know how when you go to college", wasn't as wonderfully embraced as I had hoped. But, I don't blame her. Who loves laundry? The initial objections lasted for about two minutes; stretching beyond one's limits (child or adult) is usually met with a few objections and resistance, until orientation, teaching and reinforcing occurs. And, since my grandmother started me at about the same age, I was not about to let this moment pass.
There were many age appropriate lessons here to be had, more than anticipated. There was sorting colors from whites; learning how to follow verbal instructions; working as a team to carry three full laundry bags from Point A to Point B; opportunities for the little ones to resolve conflict between themselves and working together to fill Life's Good washing machines, that now come complete with a "Super Wash" function, a necessity for any parent. My youngest, "Coco-Meister" (age 4) and oldest, "Bea" (age 7), each had their tasks.
Coco-Meister did quite well with following instructions and working as a team. She may be smaller than Bea, but she carries her own weight and then some. She especially likes pushing buttons and proclaiming, "I can do it by myself!" Bea only needed a little support on reading the menu of choices on the washers and found herself feeling a sense of pride when she was later able to give her sister some instruction. For Bea, there was the added benefit of working with money (in debit card form) and in telling and anticipating the progress of time. Both, as usual loved the round of "High Fives" (see Wikipedia for origins). And, the age appropriate lessons for me? I get to keep working on increasing my patience and learning how to translate adult-talk to kid-talk. In the end, spending time together interacting in the day-to-day adventure of living is second to none, in learning what my girls are good in, and where they and I need improvement.
As someone once said, children rise to the level of expectation (John Morefield, Recreating Schools for All Children. Johns Hopkins University School of Education) and I think the same might be said for parents, as I find myself challenged to think of creative ways to incorporate what they learn in school into our practical lives with the world as our classroom.
So here we are waiting for our wash to be done. I'm with my brand spanking new Toshiba NB505 netbook (in my favorite color of blue and purchased on sale at Best Buy) with the known universe at my fingertips, delivered via Verizon Wireless to a laundry room in sunny San Diego and they are sitting close by, enjoying the greatest invention for any kid (and parent), a box of Crayola Crayons and their favorite coloring books.
Personal thought: "Yes, Bea, you are only going into the second grade, but I bet college will be here before both you and I expect it. So, for the time being, dad is enjoying the moment, taking care of our daily needs, and enjoying you and your sister loving the new things you are learning and what will not last forever, your enjoyment of Crayola Crayons."
Update: At the end of the wash cycle, we had a lot of fun setting up a line of delivering laundry from washer to dryer. Later, the girls got experience in folding their own clothes (Yes, a clothes fight did breakout momentarily - But, it was fun)! By the end of this class, I got to hear, in typical kid fashion, "My arms are falling off!" and "Wow, this is so much work!" If nothing else, they are learning life takes some effort and "work" leads to pleasant experiences, as in the enjoyment of an evening meal and a relaxing stroll to the local market under a beautiful night sky.
Work and play...My kind of day!