On the last weekend of his father's summer vacation, my son decided to empty his laundry bag. The laundry bag that had been holding all those secret treasures, mostly dirty clothes, and had been carefully placed in a corner of his room since he came home in mid-June. Over the course of the past couple of months, I have been aware of a somewhat truncated cycle of T-shirts, underwear and jeans that comprise his daily wardrobe. It caused me to reflect on my own sartorial choices, noting that I didn't skew too far from that model myself during these lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. I probably wore a larger variety of T-shirts, having this break in the elementary school dress code to fill in with some of those favorites that otherwise remain at the bottom of the drawer.
But finally, the rest of the story emerged in the form of all those pairs of pants and sweatshirts and assorted socks that weren't ready to see the light of day. And now, suddenly, here they were. It made me wonder about my role as chief laundry officer for this ship, and I was reminded that my son had managed to do his own laundry in his dorm facilities for all those months prior. I could have simply let the pile grow until there was no getting around it. Once he was unable to get in or out of his room without having to move that mass, he would have broken out his own detergent and attacked the problem just like he had before he moved back in.
But the truth is, I was eager to have that odd bit of connection. I understood all those times I had gone back to visit my mother, and her eagerness to toss around a bit of my dirty laundry. It's a way we can show that we care, we parents. We're doing a load anyway, is there anything else that needs to be washed? Of course there is, but when you're a nineteen year old boy, discerning and locating said items becomes a bit of a scavenger hunt.
I am going back to school, but he still has a few weeks left at home. He has already talked about how next summer he might end up staying at school, to pick up a class or two or get a job near campus. And then he'll have to get his clothes clean all by himself. Just like he was already doing before I barged in and started doing it for him.
He'll be fine.