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Next Big Lesson in College: Do the Dishes

Mom on the Run: The Next Chapter

I’ve been trying to reach my son all afternoon. He called while I was in a meeting – darned work! – and when I tried calling him back he hung up on me, and my next call went straight to voice mail. “Sorry. Class,” stated the immediate text message.

Ah, good, I thought. I paid a lot of money for him to go to college to take classes, so, “No problem talk to you later” I texted back.

But then I didn’t hear from him. I sent another text message, “Call whenever,” but got no response. And I wasn’t really worried, so far every college phone call has been good, or just checking in, not about a problem, but still, my son called. I wanted to talk to him.

So on the way home from the gym I try one more time. He answers on the fourth ring, just as I am getting ready to hang up, and, knowing it’s me, launches right in, “Hey, I was just calling to apologize for all the times I didn’t do my dishes,” he says.

My mouth falls open. I was prepared for some sort of problem, or major news, so this … um … what? “Apologizing?”

“Yeah,” he says. “Some of my suitemates aren’t doing their dishes, and it’s making me crazy, and I know I did that, and now I get it. Sorry.”

I almost laugh out loud, it’s so unexpected, but catch myself in the nick of time. And rather than focus on the glorious realization and apology: “The dishes are all stacked up, huh?”

“Yeah,” he says. “They’re all piled up on the toilet, next to the sink. I’m just watching them to see how long it takes. I’m not doing them.”

Now I can’t help it, I have to laugh, remembering the small bathroom shared by the two dorm rooms and four boys. “Good luck with that,” I finally tell him. “My college roommate did the same thing. I finally caved and did them. I couldn’t stand it anymore.”

“Oh, no,” he assures me. “I’m not going to do them. I’m doing my own dishes. But I’m not doing theirs.”

But, wait: “They’re sitting on the toilet?” I ask. “What are you doing? Moving them every time you have to go, or using someone else’s bathroom?”

“No, they’re not in the way,” he explains. “They’re on the top, in the back.”

“Oh, on top of the tank. Gotcha.”

“Yeah. So it’s no big deal, but you see them every time you go into the bathroom, especially when you have to use the toilet. They’re all right there. And I’m not doing them.”

“Good for you,” I tell him, and I mean it.

Then, “OK, I’ve got to go,” he tells me, less than a minute after answering the phone. “Talk to you later.” And my boy hangs up, leaving me staring at my phone in surprise and delight. Apologized for not doing his dishes! Just a week after I learned that he gets himself up in the morning – and his suitemate too, “because there’s no way he would wake up on time by himself” – though I had to shake him awake all through high school.

And I laugh, already anticipating the next lesson in my son’s college education!

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