Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Decisions

I was folding laundry last night and got to thinking.  Help me with the math here: Let’s say Beaven wears five t-shirts a week-- just as a round number.  And I wash, dry and fold these t-shirts 50 weeks out of the year, again a round number.  In one year that’s 250 t-shirts.  Folded exactly like he showed me when we got married, which is exactly the way his mother folded them.  Now say I’ve been doing that 40 years (actually 45 but we’re making things simple).  I’ve folded 10,000 t-shirts, just like his mother folded them.  If I’m focused, it takes me 30 seconds to fold one t-shirt.  I just calculated that’s 83 hours of my life spent folding t-shirts. 

That’s a two-week vacation. 

I’ve been doing this twice as long as Blanche did it for him before we got married.  I mindlessly adopted her technique without question, never dreaming that I had any choice in the matter.

And just last night for the first time in 45 years, it occurred to me to wonder why people don’t just hang them on hangers.  Or do they and I’ve missed the boat all this time?  Am I the only wife spending the equivalent of a two-week vacation folding t-shirts?
And what about those women who just wad the things up and throw them into a drawer?  Or the women who make their husbands do their own laundry? Are their marriages headed for the rocks? I’m not saying I would give up my wonderful man just because his mom spoiled him.  It just never occurred to me that I had a choice.
Choices are such a luxury and some we never even notice for what they are.
Our oldest granddaughter spent a long weekend on a band trip to Chicago.  It wasn’t for any kind of competition, it was for the sheer fun of it. They missed Friday and Monday at school but most of these band kids never have a problem with making up their work.  These are the kids who rehearse all day outside in August, drinking water by the gallons; who can walk and play an instrument at the same time. Band nerds are Boss.  Band nerds kick ass and take names.  They totally deserved a vacation.
And we were so glad to see her having fun. 
She kept up a family message string to update us on practically every minute.  We could ask her what she ate for dinner and she could send us a photo.  No chance of getting homesick.
She was a veteran of sharing a hotel room with three other girls after being brought up at church retreats. She knows the drill.  Bit by bit, she is growing up.  And the bits are some of the smallest of details.
We used to take the church youth group to the hill country for a retreat every year when they were in middle school.  It takes about four or five hours to get there and I always hated the drive.  It was the constant state of alertness that drove me up the wall.  The responsibility for young lives that so many people cherish.
So, one year, when another church told us they had chartered a bus for their youth group and had plenty of room for our group I jumped at the chance. 
The bus came with a professional driver.  I reveled in the luxury of not having to pay attention to the road, at having someone I trusted taking care of our safety.  There was even a bathroom on board.  We didn’t have to stop; it was just “get on the bus, chill out, and arrive at destination.” 
The kids didn’t like it. 
How could they not like it?  The seats were roomy.  You could stand up and walk around if you wanted to. What did they miss about a cramped car with somebody sleeping on half of your shoulder?
They missed the stops for gas or for potty breaks.  Because that’s when a lot of the fun happens on a road trip. They really enjoyed the 10 or 15 minutes at a gas station. And that’s when I understood the tiny little things that go into making an adult. 
Choices. Making their own decisions.  For an average elementary or middle school kid, going anywhere without their parents was new territory.  And taking their own money into a gas station to buy snacks is a rite of passage.  There was the newness of deciding on their own what they will buy, not having to ask permission.  It was the act of calculating if they have enough money.  Paying for the snacks yourself.  Getting change back.  The entire transaction makes them just a little bit older and more experienced.
It reminded me of a watershed event in my own life that I had almost forgotten.  My elementary school went up to the 7th grade.  By that age I was riding my bike to school (another bit of growing up.) There was a Mom and Pop grocery store next door to the school where we could buy snacks after school.  The year I got to the seventh grade the store opened up a tiny space by the front window for a few tables and a restaurant.  My best friend that year was Elizabeth Anderson and we rode our bikes everywhere.  On our bike rides to and from school we cooked up a plan to celebrate the school year’s end, our transition out of elementary school,  with dinner at that little restaurant.  When the day came we felt so grown-up:  we rode our bikes to the place, ordered, ate, paid, and rode our bikes home. I remember nothing about our meal but I will never forget the feeling of being a little bit closer to adulthood.  I could see it on the horizon and it didn’t look too hard.
There would be many decisions after that.  I would decide who I married, even if he came with t-shirts to fold.  Together we would make sobering decisions regarding our parents’ health care and welfare; decisions made more easily with a partner.  And we made group decisions with our children about their colleges. The college decisions were the most fun.
The more people you have in the decision-making process the easier it is.  I firmly believe that’s why God invented committees. 
What?  God invented committees?  That’s another blog for another day.

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