I’ve sat on this story for several days. It’s a little embarrassing. However DW endorses laughter of any kind and he thinks I shouldn’t pass up such juicy details of my life. I’m sure I’ll regret this later, but what the heck, life is what it is and this is mine.
My arms were numb from holding a rickety umbrella in the rain for over an hour on Sunday. The Tortoise had a soccer game, so I suited up to face the 40 degree torrential downpour. We lost and were soaked. A few hours after we got home I started to pull together a load of laundry for DW, The Hare and myself. I was putting clothes in the basket when it dawned on me that The Tortoise’s wet uniform had disappeared.
“You need to hang up your uniform in the bathroom or do a load of wash,” I called through her closed door.
I finished putting clothes in a basket and headed downstairs. The Tortoise has been doing her laundry this school year after I released myself from the constant battle of “why don’t you ever put your clothes away after I’ve worked so hard to wash and fold them all?” For the most part, she has looked presentable and hasn’t smelled like a sweaty locker room. (Although her room itself is a different matter.)
I was feeling generous. I decided to do her a favor and knocked on the door.
I took that as an invitation. As soon as I opened the door she jumped off the bed, scrambled to pick up piles of clothes and books off the floor, frantically tried to close an overstuffed closet with rows of empty hangers.
“I thought I would wash your wet clothes with ours for you.”
“No…no, that’s okay. I can do it,” she said shoving random items into her laundry hamper, kicking a soccer sock under the bed.
“Uh huh, ” I said walking across the room.
I tried to lift the top of her hamper but her hand was firmly on top.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I said I can do it myself, ” she insisted.
In case you are new to parenting or just dense, this behavior is never a good sign and should be investigated immediately.
“Remove your hand now.”
The Tortoise reluctantly took her hand off the hamper. The items on top had obviously not been worn recently, but simply tossed in the hamper to avoid being put away. (One of the many reasons why I stopped doing her laundry). Under the first layer were dirty garments, and the next layer revealed her wet uniform.
“What were you thinking? Now everything surrounding this uniform is wet.”
“I wasn’t thinking,” she said shrugging her shoulders, “I just didn’t want to deal with it today.”
“But if you leave wet things in the hamper they will smell and mildew. It’s gross, ” I said retrieving the already offensive pile. I dug around a few more layers to take anything else that was wet.
“ALRIGHT!” The Tortoise snapped, “I GOT IT FROM HERE.”
I kept pulling clothes out of the hamper and suddenly a pair of my underwear fell on the floor. And then another.I stood there dumbfounded for a moment. Surely this was a figment of my imagination, but unfortunately I had just been thinking the other day that my underwear drawer seemed to be shrinking. I brushed it off as early onset menopausal hormone fluctuations. Because seriously, who steals underwear?
“I don’t know how those got in there,” she said quickly under her breath.
“Really? So they just walked in here by themselves.”
“Maybe they got mixed up when you did laundry.”
“I don’t do your laundry anymore, remember?”
“Yeah, well maybe they were clean ones that fell on the floor and someone thought they were mine and put them in my hamper.”
I gingerly picked up a pair. It was ripe – definitely worn.
“You are blatantly lying to me.”
“I’M NOT LYING. YOU ALWAYS THINK I’M LYING!”
“BECAUSE YOU ARE LYING!”
I had reached my limit and was making the cardinal sin, letting my child set the mood. My sanity escaped me and I had to just leave the room before I said something I would later regret. DW was laying on our bed watching T.V. when I stormed into the room, carrying the stolen underwear.
“What’s with all the shouting?” he asked.
“The Tortoise stole my underwear.”
“Yeah – it’s crazy right? But she did, ” I said holding the evidence up for him to see.
“Well what did she say about it?”
“She denied taking them.”
“TORTOISE! Get in here right now, ” he bellowed.
The Tortoise cowered in the doorway, head hanging low.
“What do you have to say for yourself?” he asked.
“I don’t know, “she said with a shrug.
I could see DW’s face turn red. The scene played out in my mind: he would continue to ask for an explanation, she would continue to deny it and then we would have no choice but to punish her for lying even though she would never have admitted to the lie or apologized.
But then DW surprised us both.
“I’m going to give you another chance to really think about your answer,” he said quietly, “and you better really think hard because it will effect your weekend plans.”
She stood in the doorway, flexing her fingers open and shut. Finally she looked up in embarrassment.
“OK. I took them.”
“But why?” I asked. “I already let you borrow t-shirts, tanks and sweatpants. You didn’t even ask!”
DW put a hand on my shoulder. He could tell I was going to lose it again.
“Because I didn’t have any more clean underwear and had already worn mine a couple days in a row.”
“THAT’S SO GROSS!” DW and I said in unison.
“Yeah – but I wore a panty-liner to get an extra day out of them.”
DW tried hard not to start laughing, he looked at me for concurrence but I still didn’t see the humor at the moment.
“Well, thank you for finally telling the truth. But if you take anything else from mom without asking again, there will be serious consequences.”
“Yes sir, ” she said relieved, “and I’m really sorry Mom. I was very disrespectful.”
“I forgive you, ” I said reluctantly.
The Tortoise turned to walk out of the room.
“And for the record,” DW said, “you can borrow my underwear anytime you want.”
“DAD!” The Tortoise shouted back.
I finally laughed.