How I Know My Family Is Out To Get Me: Kitchen Edition

Recently I was informed that my family insisting on three solid meals a day AND snacks is not actually proof they are out to get me. Fair enough. Surely this list will convince you.

  • Wet, bloated macaroni noodles hiding under a plate in the sink. If you didn’t want to touch it when it first fell out what makes you think I want to pick it up the next day? It looks and feels unnatural.
  • Lettuce. Lettuce is my nemesis. That my family continues to consort with my sworn enemy is proof that they are not on my side. It falls on the floor and apparently becomes invisible. It sneaks into the dishwasher and adheres to plates so thoroughly I have to scrape it off with my thumbnail. Ick.
  • Wet meat. I want to hurl just typing that. That little pile of goop caught in the sink drain catcher is bad enough with a bloated noodle, but wet meat? Gag. You don’t do that to someone you love.
  • Standing water. It stands to reason if wet meat and a bloated noodle turn my stomach then reaching into water someone else left sitting with any possible combination of disgusting mystery ingredients is not going to please me.
  • Dirty sponges. This is just evil. Sponges are gross. No really, sponges are gross.

A sponge that’s been in use for no more than two or three days in a kitchen will harbor millions of bacteria,” said Elizabeth Scott, co-director of the Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in the Home at Simmons College in Boston. That’s a problem, she said, ”if you pick up the pathogen or a pathogenic E. coli, salmonella or campylobacter on the sponge.”

She added: ”That means that any time you use the sponge to wipe up a surface you are potentially spreading those pathogens.”

  • Dishes Jenga. When I walk into the kitchen and the dishes are piled haphazardly in the sink, likely to fall at any moment, I just walk back out again and hope it was a bad dream.
  • The set of measuring spoons tethered together by a ring. I find it suspicious that this is the only dish ever thoroughly rinsed, therefore I have to wash each spoon because I have no idea which one was used.
  • The glob of jelly on the counter. The paper towel is right there.
  • The last smudge of something leftover from last week. I open the fridge, delighted to realize there are leftovers I can serve instead of cooking again, only to discover not only is there not even half a serving left, but now I have another dish to rinse and clean.

That’s how I know. 

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It’s Not A Secret

Yesterday I had to unload the dishwasher myself. That is a terrible start to any story so let’s add a drink, we’ll pretend it was a margarita since it was Cinco De Mayo, but it was actually a grape flavored Bacardi pre-mixed can of heartburn. Anyway, I was unloading the dishwasher, which is not my chore, and I noticed I was doing all the things I usually complain about. I put all the sippy cup lids in a basket with the annoying stopper things unattached and mixed the toddler utensils in with the regular utensils and ignored other small details I should have been fixing as I unloaded.

If this is the only blog of mine you ever read you will leave this page thinking I am a control freak nitpicker. This is not the case. In reality I am so laid back about cleaning you could call it reclined. I do want my house to be tidy and sanitary but I’m not trying to impress anyone or get our picture in Better Homes and Gardens. I just don’t want to end up on an episode of Hoarders, either. I live in a small house with 6 people and 3 cats. Some order needs to be maintained to keep your sanity.

So, back to the dishes, I noticed I was being sloppy and blaming everyone else. I shouldn’t have been unloading the dishwasher, that is my 13 year old daughter’s job. Everyone hates loading the dshwasher. It is the least desired chore in the house. My daughters would rather change the cat litter and clean the bath tub than load dishes. I could make them anyway. I make them do a lot of things they don’t like, claiming it is to prepare them for the real world, when usually it’s just because I don’t like it, either. I don’t make them load the dishwasher, though, because someday they will have families of their own and because they have female anatomy, they, too, will most likely have to do everything they hate, like touching other people’s wet food scraps because no one bothers to scrape and rinse their plate. They have years of muttering under the breath in their future, why make them start now.

The situation reminded me of a popular self help movement from a few years back that I did not take part in because if I spend money on self help it’s going to be a gym membership or a massage. I did mean to check the book out from the library after the hype died down simply because I like knowing what all the hype is about. I forgot. I did hear bits and pieces from the innerwebs and television and to my understanding the basic idea is that positive thinking will make you happy (duh) and if you surround yourself with successful people, you will become successful. Now, that might sound hokey, but in a past life I worked outside the home and I remember clearly the transition between workspaces at one job. I had become complacent and comfortable just getting by. I was the best at what I did in one arena, not because I was truly the best, but because everyone else was lazy. I moved to another arena with more motivated co-workers and discovered I was the lazy one. I had to buckle down and work harder to keep up and it made me better at my job.

If I apply that same thinking to my home full of infants, toddlers, teenagers and a man that is rarely home… I am in trouble. If I am setting the standard for this household I seriously need to buckle down. It’s easy to put a dish away with lettuce stuck to it and let the next hungry person re-wash it by hand because I know that is exactly what everyone else in the house would do. Don’t judge me. Lettuce is my nemesis. It’s easy to just shove the garbage down a little deeper and keep piling more in because I am still doing more than  everyone else. They just throw their garbage on the top of the obviously full can without bothering to notice if it stayed in or rolled off so by the time I go to take it out at night it resembles the trash heap from Fraggle Rock. If I didn’t have to take it out every night it may even start talking to us.

I make a lot of excuses, my favorite being that there are 6 people in this house. SIX! One of them can’t even walk but trust me, the boy makes a mess. I may be able to fool a lot of people with that excuse, but not myself. I grew up in a house with 6 people and I don’t remember ever ever ever thinking the floor felt crunchy. We never ran out of toothpaste or Tylenol or anything important. My mom stayed at home until I was in school and then she worked outside the home and somehow we never ran out of toilet paper. I remember her reading a lot but the house was always clean. My house is a mess and I still can’t find time to read without staying up until midnight.

According to this self help movemenet, as I understand it, I clearly need to move back in with my mother. (They live a few blocks away and I’m pretty sure I just heard the sound of the drill as she boarded up the doors and windows.) Or maybe I just need to suck it up and start setting a higher standard for my household instead of bitching that it’s not my job to unload the dishwasher. That really is what it boils down to. It’s not a secret, it’s actually quite simple. You have to do your personal best regardless of what the people around you are doing. You can surround yourself with successful people or you can choose to set the standard.

That being said, we are out of toilet paper. Time to set the standard.