Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 18, 2013

GROUNDS FOR INSANITY: Lots of life’s instructions to teach — with a few brownies

By RHONDA SCHROCK
COLUMNIST

— There had to be a better way. I wasn’t asking for the Brooklyn Bridge or the moon on a platter. All I wanted was one simple change; a little old tweak in technique using his muscular physique. That was all.

The other day, I mentioned it. “I don’t care,” I said casually, “if you do a complicated aerial maneuver on your way in.” I peered at him. “If you’d like to do a seven-point dive, be my guest. I’ll even score it with placards from my spot on the pillow. But I don’t see why the covers must be flung to kingdom come when you crawl in.”

He barked out something that sounded suspiciously like a laugh, then covered it up with a cough. I sighed. Apparently, I was going to have to host a seminar titled, “How to Slip Into Bed Without Disturbing Your Spouse.” If I served brownies in between workshops, I thought, I’d have a fair to middlin’ chance of signing him up.

There was another one I’d been thinking of hosting, not for him, but for his sons. And it had to do with the laundry.



Just when I thought I’d figured out my job description, having counted up all the hats I wore as a mother and wife, I stubbed my toe on another one. This time, it came from a doctor.

“The patient,” he said as I typed along, “works for the federal government as a small-arms instructor.”

I stopped. Huh. Well, now. Hadn’t I been a small-arms instructor myself, ever since 1989 when the first little doober’d shown up? Why, yes. Yes, I had.

For years, I’d instructed small arms, teaching them how to button a shirt, to tie a shoe. To make a bed and pick up their toys. To share their trucks, wash up for dinner and, for Pete’s sake, to “stop hitting your brother” with those arms. All of this and more with nary a government paycheck. Rats.



Now, even though the arms were bigger, I’d found that my days of instructing were not yet done. There was, as I’d mentioned, a laundry issue, and it was time for a tutorial.

What in the world was going on with the towels? It was a mystery that had me looking for a Sherlock. Who, I guess, was off tracking stuff for Scotland Yard with the luck I’d had in unraveling it.

They were multiplying like rabbits in the back room. No sooner had I laundered a full load than another one appeared. I was a hamster in a wheel, the Lance Armstrong of laundry, riding the Tour de France on a stationary bike for all the progress I was making.

What was up with those kids? Were they using a fresh one for each limb and one for their hair? It was the only thing that could explain the astonishing proliferation I was seeing. And that’s why Mother was designing another workshop.

I’d call it “Toweling Techniques.” Knowing the guys, I’d have to keep it lively; real lively and real loud, or I’d lose ‘em.

The “seminar” would be held by the washer. I’d lure them in with the smell of fresh cookies, something they could never resist, and I’d nail ‘em.

“Fellows,” I’d say, “let’s start with the basics. This here is a towel, and this is your head.” Starting at the top and working down, I’d show the quartet how it’s done. “You towel off your hair and move to your neck. Next, it’s left arm, then right, and on to your tummy, all with this lovely green towel.”

If they started getting wiggly and restless, I’d stop and fire off a few bottle rockets out the back window. Or we’d step just outside and blow a few ‘crackers just to help them refocus.

When we’d gathered around the washer again, I’d bring it in for a landing. We’d cover legs, feet and our exit technique. I’d reiterate the truth that, “This is not Sea World and you are not dolphins, so there’s no need to leave a lake on the floor.”



After the workshop, we’d light some more rockets and sing something like “We Shall Overcome” to pump up any sagging morale. Then, throwing the last of the cookies in their direction, I’d brush up on my Keurig skills and brew myself a cup of recovery.

I wish that “Toweling Techniques” and “How to Slip Into Bed Without Aggravating the Tarnation Out of Your Spouse” were the only workshops we need here, but that would be a lie. We could use “How to Hit the Hamper with the Towels I Showed You How to Use” and “You Spilled It, You Wipe It.” It wouldn’t hurt, either, to have a refresher course on “How to Wield a Toilet Brush,” a class I’d taught before a Grandma visit once.

Looks like I (and my arms) will be awfully busy this spring with all that instructing. I wonder if there’ll be a paycheck for this. I wonder where instructors go to retire.