Yesterday I was helping my son load the dishwasher when I realised it was his job and I stopped. "You always do this," the 10-year-old told me, "because you're a control freak."
And of course I am. I'm also married to a control freak with even bigger control issues than my own. For all our life together, some 15 years, we have clashed over folding laundry and loading the dishwasher. I like him to stay out of the utility room and let me get on with it in my own time and my own way. He always barges in, washes my delicates and puts them in the dryer, thus shrinking them. No amount of shouting from me has stopped him from this very annoying habit. You could say he's doing me a favour, but you'd be wrong. It's no favour when your favourite sweater ends up fitting a 10-year-old.
His personal bug-a-boo is loading the dishwasher. I will have loaded it throughout the day in preparation for one big cycle after dinner. But he can't stand that or the way I've loaded it.
Mr. Environmentally Aware wants to run the dishwasher as soon as there's one dirty dish. So he runs it in the morning, then again in the morning, then the afternoon, then before dinner and then after dinner. That's enough water for some poor African country for a month. Also, he has to rearrange every dish that I've put in. So I go in the utility room and refold his laundry. My way. Don't even get me started on duvet wars.
It could be worse. My first hubby and I came into our relationship with two sets of cutlery and dishes. When he cooked, we ate off his dishes. When I cooked, we ate off mine. We finally bought a new set, then got divorced and had to split it up.
But back to the 10-year-old. What sort of message am I sending him and his sister? I hope they have the humour and tolerance that their parents sometimes lack. I hope they don't get hung up on how the clothes are folded or the dishwasher loaded. In short, I hope they don't grow up to be control freaks because it really isn't that much fun being one.