I committed the unpardonable sin tonight.

I did the laundry.

This morning, one of my teenagers informed me that he had no pants to wear. I told him where I keep a secret stash of pants (the storage room) and, thus, he didn’t not have to attend church half-clad. (I kid. The storage room is a mutated closet where I hang their dressy clothes, like the black corduroy pants I bought each of the boys to wear for our Christmas photograph.)

This evening, I scooped up the discarded black corduroy pants off the laundry room floor and pushed them into the washing machine with other dirty duds. The laundry is a little backed up because over the weekend, that happens. I venture out of the house and in my absence the laundry copulates and gives birth to more dirty laundry.

About twenty minutes later, would-be-half-clad boy comes out (wearing pajama pants) and says, “Mom, did you wash my pants?” and I say, “I think they’re in the washer. Why?” and he informs me that his wallet was in the pocket.

“Bummer,” I said with characteristic care. “What was in it?” I’ve washed it a half dozen times before.

“Money!” he said

“Money can be washed. Anything else?”

“My YMCA card and two cards from Game Crazy.”

“Everything will be fine.”

And he exits.

Moments later, “MOM! MY iPOD IS IN MY POCKET!”

Me: “!!!!!”

Him: “MOM!”

I slide my feet back into my slippers, scurry to the laundry room and see that the machine has twenty-five minutes remaining in its cycle. It is a front-loading machine. I cannot open it mid-cycle or the water will rush out like a waterfall. So, I say, “Well, too bad. Maybe it’s not in there.” He is widely famous of his absentmindedness and often misplaces things. For all I know, the iPod is upstairs on the bathroom counter or in the living room under a couch. Why panic until the cycle ends?

Then the world collapses from the massive outrage of one 14-year old boy.

He simply could not believe that I had the nerve–THE NERVE!–to wash his iPod. I said, “Shane, I do not check pockets. All I did was my job. I do laundry.”

He said, ‘WELL! THANKS A LOT, MOM! THANKS A LOT!” He said some other things he doesn’t have the sense to regret.

Of course, I advised him that the responsibility for pocket-emptying is his. He raged on and on and I let him, only pointing my bony finger in his face to inform him that if he didn’t like the way I did laundry, he could do his own laundry. In fact, I may have said, “FINE! THEN FROM THIS SECOND ON, YOU WILL DO YOUR OWN LAUNDRY. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?!” He disappeared into his room, only to reappear a bit later.

He expressed incredulity that I never said I was sorry and I said, “SORRY!?! FOR DOING THE LAUNDRY? FOR WASHING DIRTY CLOTHES LEFT ON THE LAUNDRY ROOM FLOOR?”

I did finally interrupt his dramatic presentation of adolescent angst to let him in on the fact that I purchased replacement insurance for his iPod for such an occasion as this.

And I did a Google search with these terms: “washing machine iPod help.” There is some anecdotal evidence that an iPod may survive a ride through the washing machine.

However, I am fairly certain I will not survive the life cycle of the common household teenager.

32 thoughts on “Unforgiven

  1. You know, he’ll be out on his own soon. He should be doing his own laundry now! Buy him a separate hamper (or laundry basket) and show him how to do it. Your future daughter-in-law will thank you for it.

    This is a pet project of mine. My kids all start doing laundry at age 6 (gotta love those front-loaders!).


  2. I’m with suburbancorrespondent. Get him (and frankly his brother, they are the same age being twins…) his own hamper and make him do his own clothes. Seeing as they are homeschooled, the first day there is a mix up and no clean clothes he can stay at home in his underwear while he fixes the problem, rather than having to stay home from school (like my brother… now a baptist minister) did to learn the lesson… Or worse, skip class for the day while they catch up in college (though febreeze can cover a multitude of gaff ups on that kind of issue… a college friend of mine told me so…)

    You are a terrific and thoughtful mom, hence the insurance and the fact that you have done the laundry so well for so long. It’s time for them to get in on the deal… Considering all the other changes you have in your life (online work, etc) you could use the break as much as they could use the lesson.

    It’s funny. My dad, while a commander in the navy, was so inadept at laundry (his mother or the ship and then his wife… my mom, had always done it) that when mom left, his fifteen year old daughter, me, had to take over for him. Thankfully he retired when I graduated high school and so my step-mother (a retired commander herself) made him do his own himself, and my brother (who was still in HS) learn how to do his effectively and now everyone in my family can do their own… except my sister in law, my brother does hers… Glad someone taught him, huh?


  3. All four of my kids started doing their own laundry when they turned 10. It was a real eye opener for them and an important life skill they need. When my daughter went off to college, she called and thanked me for making her do her own laundry. She could not believe how many kids go off to college with no knowledge of how to do their own laundry. Even my two older boys have thanked me for teaching them how to do laundry. My youngest son hasn’t reached that age yet, but when he is old enough to be out on his own, he will have at least one life skill down. That, and how do make tater tots on the George Foreman grill!


  4. I can feel for you. I heard the complaint all weekend about how 17-year-old has no clean underwear ever. How am I supposed to wash something that never shows up in the laundry? I told him he knows where the machine is and how to use and to get busy with it!


  5. I’ve washed an ipod shuffle a couple of times. Once for each boy [age 14 now, but 12 when the pocket thing happened at our house] The first time through both were fine. The second time through for boy #1 was the killer, though.


  6. Seriously needs to do his own laundry…especially after a scene like that one. Its amazing how earth shattering things can be for a teen. Boys have PMS also ..right? Ugh!


  7. Dear Subcorrespondent: You only think your future daughter in law will thank you. The fact of the matter is, as soon as a man marries and/or moves in with a woman, he instantly reverts back to being a helpless child who cannot do anything for himself.

    Case in point: my other half. He lived on his own. He washed his laundry, hung it up, managed to dress himself, and find socks each and every day. He always had on matching shoes. He managed to dry himself off with a towel, which he remembered to bring into the bathroom with him before getting into the shower. While in said shower, he also managed to locate the soap and the shampoo, I guess, because he always smelled good and clean. He managed to find his wallet and car keys before leaving the house each day. I moved in. He can no longer do any of these things without my help. The only logical conclusion I can draw from this is that men suffer from something akin to a stroke the instant a woman moves in.

    I think I need to find a nice, stylish gay man to marry.


  8. Poor Mel. 14 year old boys are the worst, aren’t they? How dare you do your job and wash pants that were on the floor of the laundry room? You should have KNOWN.

    I hate laundry. I hate everything about it, it’s the most pointless job I do. By Sunday night everything’s clean and folded and they throw it on the floor of their room. Sometimes it’s back in the laundry the next week still folded.

    My 14 year old boy knows how to do his own laundry now, thanks to an unfortunate incident in which he treated his mother like hired help. Someday, I hope he’ll thank me.


  9. You know I subscribe to that tough love school of thought. After 7 it happens and a parent learns you can’t teach a teenager. If mine want clean clothes they wash ’em. and remember if left out too long on the floor the trash man gets ’em.
    Hey we pay for them with our hard earned cash!


  10. Ditto on what everyone else said about doing his own laundry. My mom started us when we were 10. If we wanted clean clothes it was our job to wash them.

    And where I come from, a boy who talks to his mother that way gets an awful lot more than laundry duty as a consequence. It’s simply not done.

    I’d be tempted to take his ipod away since he obviously seems to think that it is more important than treating his mother respectfully, and if my son thought that he doesn’t deserve to have it.

    (I confiscate toys that my kids fight over to drive home the idea that no object is more important than people, esp. family.)

    I hope today is better.


  11. My iPod shuffle survived the wash. Apparently I don’t check pockets either. Maybe he will get lucky and his will survive too.


  12. I have had the exact same experience with my 14 year old (only without the forethought of insurance). The ipod was DOA.

    You would have thought I had cut off my son’s thumbs with a steak knife. He was traumatized.

    I felt pretty bad, but hardly responsible. I have lost or “killed” prized possessions of my own and it is no fun. I can’t say that I’ve always been completely pleasant when it’s happened either…


  13. The timing is funny–my iPod Nano died on Monday!!! The click wheel bit it…I’m sad.

    I agree… 14? They should do their own laundry most of the time (I would probably still do the dressier stuff…then that’s me.)

    And, totally, completely, the resposibility for pocket emptying is his. Totally his. It’s not like it was on his bedroom floor and you scooped it up…It was in the laundry room already.

    Good luck. I have a girl teenager to contend with…


  14. Whelp, I join the ones that say have him do his own laundry. Our three teens do their own….starting at age 13 the laundry is their own problem. It’s actually kindof fun to see them figure out that they need to wash their jeans the night before school instead of the morning of….


  15. Ah teenage logic. I just got a view into what my mom must have dealt with in me. I was the absentminded one. The one who she call airhead on the same day that I brought home a 4.0 report card…again.

    I was always upset that my mom never apologized first or she’d say, “I’m sorry you’re feeling upset.”

    But seeing this argument from a purely adult perspective is eyeopening. Perhaps I wasn’t so justified in all my frustrations with Mom.

    Then again, it was I, who got called “evil” and “full of Satan” quite regularly and perhaps that was over the top…


  16. It’s two days later and I’m wondering if the iPod and the teenage boy survived (I’m sure there were emotional scars around the house)!


  17. I forgot to add that those teenagers do eventually grow up and as adults come back home to say, “thanks, mom!” I guess now that I’ve experienced that end of it, I can more easily ignore those who are currently in the *moving into young adulthood* age range by NOT getting into those round and round and round discussions.

    Tammy ~@~


  18. There’s help for a washed ipod?! That sucks, I threw ours out. We had a similar experience, but it really was my fault. My son was flying out in the morning for his permanent move back to the U.S. and I gathered up his clothes for a quick freshening up– imagine my horror when his little ipod was plastered against the window when the wash was done. I felt terrible!! (and drove two hours to get a new one– he was going to be on a 14 hour plane ride!)
    Please tell me the website was wrong and they can’t be fixed 😦


  19. Okay, I didn’t read this post in its entirety the first time, and I would not be surprised if you are getting a gazillion new comments after last night’s post.

    I don’t have kids. I’m only in my early 20s, so I think that leaves me utterly incompetent in addressing parenting issues. However I have this to say: a fourteen-year-old boy is perfectly capable of doing his own laundry. I started doing mine when I was about 12 because in my family my dad was in charge of laundry and I have COUNTLESS articles of clothing ruined because of frequent errors. Somewhere along the way, my mom said, “Well you could always do your own laundry, and this won’t be a problem.” “FINE!” And that’s pretty much that.

    So, really, I think he should do his own laundry. Also, I’ve made a point not to wash my husband’s pants unless they are in the laundry bin. Because if they are on the floor, it probably means he is not ready for me to wash them yet and the pockets are full of stuff. But if those pants get in the laundry bin with full pockets, I take no responsibility for damaged items.

    I hope the iPod insurance stuff works out.


  20. Seriously Mel, we must have the same DNA, I have had this same argument with my husband, although it’s only ever been his wallet. I refuse to check pockets. I’m doing the laundry. Isn’t that enough???


  21. NOPE, I don’t check the pockets either. I have found SO many things in the wash (after it is completed!)…chewing gum (which ended up getting GROSS in the dryer!), nuts and bolts, pocket knives, change (of course), kleenex, and the most constant one…Blistex. If you don’t want stuff to go through the wash, clean your pockets out!

    (Sorry hunny bunny!)


  22. that is awesome! it sounds just like ME when i was a teen…poor you. poor me, that’s what i have to look forward to. but maybe you will get a teenage boy to actually do his OWN laundry…that’s what my mom got after washing my whites with a pair of jeans. heh heh.


  23. Hello, I came by way of BrittLeigh’s blog. What a delightful slice of life you’ve just shared. You need no advice from me, but my prayers are with you. I survived a teenage son and teenage daughter. Now my daughter gets to survive hers. It’s a wonderful cycle (pun intended) to witness. selahV


  24. After surviving similar situations with my two kids, I was able to belly-laugh at this post. But, if he is like my son…. he will always blame you. No matter how mature or responsible he becomes. It will just always be your fault. 😉


  25. I’ll second that! It will always be your fault. Unless of course your teen becomes a smashing success later in life. Then it’s all their own doing….

    What can you do? It’s a good thing we’re such mature and stable people and we can deal with these little darlings.


  26. I know I am late commenting here. I washed my son’s iPod in August! He had left for Basic Training and I was washing up his clothes that he left that week (he usually washed his own wash for those who recommend that 🙂 ) and when I removed items from the washer, his one pair of pants was very heavy. Uh oh, iPod. We split the cost on replacing it as I should have checked and he should not have left it in his pocket.


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