Laundry Fail.

Front loader washing machine. The two dials on top look like eyes looking in odd directions. There is a red cloth coming out of the opening which looks like a tongue coming out of a mouth. Meme caption: “Stop!! I’ve had enough!”

So, lately I’ve been having meetings with my younger sister, Cindy, about my novel and how it’s getting along. It involves a lot of me moaning about how I’ll never get any of it to work and Cindy reassuring me that I’m almost there and can do it. This is what I was doing yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, after I’d set off a wash in the machine. It was towards the end of our chat, as I was putting together a shopping list of experts I’d like to talk to, if I can work up the nerve to ask them, when Penny burst into the room screaming.

Here’s what happened: Pippi, for reasons best known to herself, had tipped a bowl of (cold) tomato soup all over her twin sister. And Penny was FREAKING OUT. “My clothes are dirty! My clothes are dirty! I don’t like wearing clothes when they are dirty! Get them off! Get them offfff!!”

I told Penny to take her clothes off and put them in the laundry sink (also: find Daddy – Mummy is not on duty) and I sent Pippi to the naughty step (“but it was an accident!”).

As I finished my conversation with Cindy (I should point out that Cindy wasn’t actually in the room. We live in Melbourne, where everyone is under house arrest. We were talking on Zoom) I could hear my husband setting the timer for the naughty step and helping Penny with her clothes.

I emerged from the study maybe ten minutes later. Pippi had served her five-minute sentence and apologised to her sister. They were now both in the laundry. Pippi sat on the lid of the washing machine while Penny encouraged her from below. It took me a while to work out what was going on.

Pippi, perhaps in an effort to fix things, took it upon herself to load the tomato soup clothes (both hers and her sisters’) into the washing machine with a slosh of laundry liquid and a scoop of napi-san for good measure. You might ask how she was able to access laundry liquid and napi-san. Don’t I keep these on a high shelf? Indeed, both of these are stored on a very high shelf, but Pippi is an adept climber. I caught her just as she was programming a cold wash.

Of course, this would be a good time for me to amend the washing machine situation, perhaps put the soupy clothes on to soak. But I had two five-year-olds shouting at me that they wanted a bath. And did I mention they were both stark naked?

“No bath!” I declared. See, here’s the thing. Pippi loves baths. Not the serene, lavender-scented, let’s-get-you-all-calm before bed kind. More like the water-everywhere, riotous, diving-practice-from-the-side-of-the-tub kind. And I can’t. I just can’t. Having twins is about efficiency. Showers all the way.

But Pippi is crafty. Lately, she has been finding ways to get especially muddy, or chocolatey, or otherwise sticky, “I’m too dirty for a shower, Mummy. I need a BATH! And so does Penny!” In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was her motivation for the soup “accident”.

So here I was, climbing the stairs as Pippi and Penny chanted “BATH! BATH! BATH!” in a sort of nude rally. I couldn’t give in. I tried to stand my ground. I couldn’t reward this behaviour. But any suggestion of shower was met with tortured shrieks.

All down the stairs, an old jigsaw puzzle had been spilled. I was struck with inspiration, “If you pick up these puzzle pieces for me, you may have a bath”

They picked the pieces up for me, and I kept saying, “You’re getting a bath because you’re helping Mummy, not because you shouted and poured soup on your sister” but I suspect the nuance was lost on them.

So anyway, it was getting to mid-afternoon when the twins were drying off. We had planned to visit the beach that day, just so we could look at it. We hadn’t had much chance to get out of our 5km bubble since the restrictions had been lifted. I still needed to hang that second load of washing out, the one I set off before my meeting with my sister, but Mr Knightley was all “let’s not worry about the washing. It’ll be sunny all week. Let’s just get going.” So we dashed off. I managed to hold two facts – the fact that I had a clean load of washing to hang out, and the fact that Pippi had placed tomato sauce-soaked clothes along with a good amount of laundry product into what I assumed was an empty machine – in my mind separately, without putting them both together and understanding the whole situation. You will remember, I never actually looked in the machine. Until I did, the washing machine contents were like Schrodinger’s Cat. Nobody knew for sure what was in there, so they were all things and nothing at once.

That was yesterday. What’s more: I am out today. I left the house early. On Mondays, I write while Mr Knightley is in charge at home. Mr Knightley won’t know what is happening in that machine. Christopher (who is thirteen now, can-you-believe-it?) gave me a call at 8am. He needed his mask for school (in Victoria, it’s against the law to leave the house without a fitted face mask). His mask, at least, the only mask of his that isn’t currently missing, was in that wet wash. He needed to dig through that sorry mix of wet and soup-stained napisan-encrusted laundry to fish his mask out and dry it with a hair dryer. I also told him where the hair dryer was. I am Mother, Finder of Things.

If you are a longtime reader of this blog and something about this seems familiar, you are right. One of my first-ever posts was about a pint-sized Chirstopher Robin setting off his own wash. My blog has come full circle. I had a darling theory when I first started writing. By documenting all my fails, I would learn and improve and eventually run out of material. Perhaps it’s a good thing for my writing career that I’ve not yet learnt a thing.


9 thoughts on “Laundry Fail.

  1. chimes3766

    My suggested, if robust, solution for ‘accidents’ of this kind: All parties – guilty, innocent, whatever – outside in the yard, sans clothing; Power hose set to ‘stun’ (higher settings perhaps for recidivist activity); Pressure wash offenders and victims until a) clean, b) screams attract attention from neighbours; Extract acknowledgement/understanding that demands for bath as reward for foul play will never be entertained. Bit harsh? Never did me any harm! (twitch, twitch, judder…)
    Love the reference to Shrodinger’s Cat 🙂 The notion that quantum indeterminacy has something helpful to bring to the conversation around child-raising; well, why not? It just might work…! Looking forward to the novel 🙂

    1. katelikestocreate Post author

      Such a tempting suggestion! I’ve always wanted to get one of those carwash contraptions, you know, the broom on the hose that shoots suds out of it, set up in my backyard. It would really help to streamline ablutions. Alternatively, I could drive the family through an automated carwash with the windows down?

  2. Anna Eastland

    Gosh you are hilarious and I love your fail posts so much. They make the best stories. Let’s keep being ridiculous and making the world laugh. It needs it! Happily I seem to be hardly learning a thing either, and still live in a loud toy explosion, with laundry monsters everywhere (I have a post about my washing machine being haunted)!

    1. katelikestocreate Post author

      Oh Anna, it’s so lovely to hear from you! I thought I’d written you a response already and just realised I never sent it! You have been on my mind. I know this must be a difficult time of year, remembering beautiful Josephine. I hope you and your family are well and managing these strange covid times. We’re enjoying our first properly warm Spring day. The kids are having a “get wet party”, spraying each other – and my fresh, dry washing – with the garden hose. It’s true: I never learn!

      1. Anna Eastland

        Hi Kate,
        Thank you for your thoughtful and lovely message. I didn’t respond at length earlier as I’ve been running around like crazy these past few weeks, as my dad’s cancer has taken a rapid turn for the worse, and we had to find him hospice care ASAP. Thank goodness a bed was available very soon, and we got him settled yesterday.
        He had a peaceful, private room with friendly nursing staff, 24/7 care, and proper pain management. Thank goodness!
        His name is Bob if you’d like to send a prayer his way. He’s quite peaceful…he spent 30 years as a master herbalist helping others, and now it’s his time to rest and be pampered a bit.
        In other news…we just found out we are having a boy! 🥰
        Sending a big hug all the way to Australia from the rainy west coast of Canada, where we get soaking wet, like it or not!

        1. katelikestocreate Post author

          Hi Anna, I just realise that I replied to your comment in my head, but not in real life (I do that all the time with text messages as well!). I wanted to let you know that I’ve been praying for you and for your Dad. It must be such a mixed up time of sadness and joy. Sending love from Australia xx

          1. Anna Eastland

            Thanks, Kate! Feeling that warm big all the way over the ocean. Thanks for your prayers! Many beautiful blessings and memories, while also very exhausting. Thanks for your funny posts which are a welcome happy distraction! 🥰

  3. Lorella D'Cruz

    Your twins sound delightful – and resourceful! Still, better yours than mine!! It’s just that at my age, soapsuds cascading down the sides of my washing machine and flooding the laundry floor are much more fun in retrospect. “Find Daddy – Mummy’s not on duty” is such a brilliant line, I wish I’d thought of it myself those many decades ago! Even more brilliant is your brainwave of driving the family through an automated carwash with the windows down. PS: Kate, I hereby nominate you for the Mother of the Year award.


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