I bet you thought you already knew how to fold a shirt. I did too! It wasn’t until I assigned the task to my 8-year-old that I learned I’d been doing it ALL WRONG. You see, I’d thought the thing to do to get the task going was to, you know, pick up a shirt. (Or something along those lines. I’m still working it out in my head.)
But no. As I learned today, there are many, many more steps involved before any part of your human flesh can actually touch the laundry.
So, here they are, the 13 steps to folding a shirt, according to my 8-year-old daughter:
- Hear your mom tell you that your chore today is to fold a load of laundry.
- Reply, “OK, Mom,” and promptly head to the laundry room. (Kidding! Only an amateur would go this route!)
- ACTUAL STEP NUMBER TWO: Throw yourself backward onto the sofa and whine, “Why do I have to do it?!”
- When your mom says, “Because you wear clothes and you’re a member of this family,” reply “FINE!” and stomp up the stairs.
- Go to your mom’s bedroom where she has dumped a pile of clean laundry to be folded on her bed. Push the laundry aside, lie down on her bed, and read whatever book you find lying around.
- After about an hour, your mom will come upstairs to check on you and find out what in God’s name could be taking so long. When this happens, peek up from your book quizzically as if you have no idea what she’s talking about. When she reminds you about the laundry, shrug in the most irritating, nonchalant manner possible, as if to say, “Why should I care about that?” (Your years of training should come in handy here.)
- When your mom tells you that you have to get up and fold the laundry, pay attention to her voice. Is it calm and even, or escalating toward a shrieking crescendo? As long as she hasn’t started freaking out yet, you must maintain your resolve. THIS IS IMPORTANT! Your only response to anything your mom says is, “No, I don’t want to.” You will repeat this mantra, ad nauseam, until she loses her shit. YOU CAN DO THIS! THIS IS THE MOMENT YOU HAVE BEEN TRAINING FOR! Never give up, never give in. That should be your motto in life.
- It may take a while, but your mom will eventually yell. Once this happens, get up from the bed and stomp your foot. Ask why your little brother doesn’t have to do the laundry. (This is an important question that must be asked in response to any directive your mother ever gives you. “Do your homework.” Why doesn’t Raymond have homework? “Get ready for bed.” Raymond’s not in bed yet. “Take your medicine.” Why doesn’t Raymond take it? “BECAUSE RAYMOND DOESN’T HAVE STREP THROAT!! DO YOU WANT TO BE SICK FOREVER???”)
- At this point, your mom will take several deep breaths in an attempt to maintain a shred of her sanity. (It’s sweet that she thinks that’s possible.) She will then tell you that she is going downstairs to set a timer for 20 minutes. If the measly little pile of laundry isn’t folded by then, you will not be allowed to go to the pool today. Stare at her and wait for her to leave.
- Now that you are alone, stand next to the bed and simply look at the laundry. You are completely aware that it won’t get folded this way, but anything is better than chores. Even wasting away your day doing nothing but standing still. You don’t want this to be over with. You want it to go on forever. FOREVER.
- After the timer dings, steel yourself for another confrontation with your mom. When she comes back in the room, look at her defiantly. You will not cave. She will tell you that you’ve lost your opportunity to go to the pool. Tell her you don’t care. She will tell you that you have one more chance to fold the laundry or you’re not having any cake for Grandma’s birthday. This, too, does not bother you. She will shout that you are losing all of your Harry Potter books. Now it’s time to cry.
- Your mom will take another deep breath and apologize for shouting. She’ll hug you. Be sure to sob as pitifully as possible and appeal to her mom guilt.
- Next, your mom will sit you down and explain that you are a member of this family and that we all have to contribute in order for the family to function. You have to do your part to and blah, blah, blah, whatever. She is clearly not giving up on this. Tell her that you’ll do it, but make sure you continue to cry.
- Fold a shirt.
Whew! Who knew it could be that complicated? I can’t believe I lived the first 30 years of my life before children just doing it the dumb and easy way! I hope you’ll tune in for my daughter’s next lesson: “How to finish folding the laundry over the next 24 hours.”
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