One night recently, my ds4 was so tired that he fell asleep in the clothes he had been wearing all day. First thing the next morning, I started the first of the two or three loads of laundry that I usually do daily, but because he was wearing the clothes, they obviously weren’t in the dirty clothes pile. When I came upstairs from putting the only dark load in the washer, I saw him wearing clothes that needed to be washed, and I thought he’d appreciate the grown-up feeling of putting his own clothes in the washer. So I enthusiastically suggested to him that he take the dirty clothes off, and he could throw them right into the washing machine himself!
Well, he was excited to do this, and he and ds3 went downstairs together to put the clothes in. After about five minutes they still hadn’t come back, so I sent someone to check on them. (Experience has shown that when the two of them are left unsupervised, huge messes happen very fast.) Dd10 came upstairs looking unhappy, bringing the two of them with her, and (knowing from her face something had happened) when I asked ds4 what they did, he told me he added soap to the washing machine so everything would get clean. Dd10 then told me they put a LOT of dishsoap in the washer, so I went downstairs to check it out myself.
Well, they had found several bottles of dish soap on the storage shelf-I don’t know if they were all full when they began, but 2-1o oz bottles were empty on the floor, and one 32 oz bottle was half empty. When I looked in the washer at the end of the cycle, the clothes were slippery with dishwashing liquid. This wasn’t particularly good timing, since we had to go somewhere that afternoon and the clothes I wanted them to wear an hour later were in that load.
As I turned on the machine to do another cycle to wash out the soap (I had to do this several times until all of the soap was all washed out – my basement for a couple of days smelled like a soap factory:)), I had visions of the Curious George book, when the mischevious little monkey put so much detergent in the washing machine that the house filled with soapsuds and the firemen had to come and use their hose to get it all out of the house (or something like that – it’s been quite a while since I read that particular book!). Then dd14 and I were talking and we both simultaneously remembered a similar kind of scene in the original Freaky Friday movie. It just goes to show that the best book and movie scenes mimic real life!
In case you’re wondering how I reacted to the littles, I very emphatically told them that unless I ask them to put soap in the washer, they shouldn’t do it. And if they want to put some in, they have to ask me first. It’s nice to want to help, but children do need to have guidelines as to when and how to be of help!