Whose turn is it to wash the dishes? 5



I don’t have to hunt through the trash to find the forks.


I’m not a referee for “whose turn is it to wash the dishes.”  You know how that goes:


It’s her turn to wash dishes., child 2 says to child 1.


No, it isn’t. I washed them last night. 


No you didn’t!


Yes, I did.


I have a full set of matching glasses.


All my pots that had tops, still have them.


None of my pots are missing.


One of my morning rituals is to put away the dishes that were washed by hand, mine or my husband’s, the night before.  The tea kettle is boiling or I’ve poured myself a glass of orange juice and set it on the counter for a few minutes to take the chill off.  As I was putting away the dishes one recent morning, it occurred to me how quickly everything is getting done and how much I like the order of the plates and bowls stacked neatly and the utensils lined in order.


No one’s battling over dishes, I thought to myself and stopped to savor the peace and take a walk down memory lane to the dish battles.


My sister would hide unwashed dishes, especially pots, in the oven.  And the dishes she did wash were usually not that clean.  She had better things to do than clean the kitchen.


I once got punished for washing my sister’s dishes, which I found grossly unfair, because I was just trying to be helpful:


At the time my mother worked in the evening,. She left instructions on who was to do what before we did our homework and went to bed.  My sister decided she didn’t feel like washing the dishes, period, end- of- discussion.  I pleaded with her to do them so mom wouldn’t get mad.  She wouldn’t budge.  So I washed them, crying and muttering to myself about the unfairness of it all, because I didn’t want to hear my mother’s tirade about the dishes not being done when she came home.  Unbeknownst to either of us, my mother had doubled back into the house and was sitting quietly in the living room listening to us. I was happy that my sister got punished but ticked-off that I also got chastised and punished because I did the dishes for my sister.


A more pleasant  memory popped up of I my mother teasing me about how wet my clothes would get when I washed the dishes – something that still happens to this day.


The worse memory about dishes from my childhood was the time my mother woke my sister and me up early one morning, around 4 o’clock because we hadn’t cleaned the kitchen to her satisfaction.  That was dreadful – being snatched out of the sound sleep of the young and made to snap alert and start working!  After that, I learned to just do the dishes quickly and all the stuff that goes with cleaning the kitchen, a habit I’ve retained to this day.


With my own children, I don’t remember much about their kitchen battles .  I believe that I had them wash dishes on alternate days.  I have a friend whose mother used to give her a week of kitchen duty – so she had one week on and one week off.  It worked for them.  Other parents I know don’t have their kids wash dishes at all; they either use paper plates (yucky-lazy!) or do the dishes themselves.

If I could, I would turn back the clock and revisit those noisy meals and kitchen battles.  Actually, I get to do that now when I visit my daughter and her family, only I’m “canderella” when I’m there – cooking and washing dishes from the moment I arrive until the moment I leave.


What about you? 
What are your dish battles and who are they with – your roommate, children, spouse, or yourself?


About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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5 thoughts on “Whose turn is it to wash the dishes?

  • jim

    Somewhere along the line in my life dishwashing went from a chore to a pleasure. My kids…well, as long as they were kids, I had to wash them, too. Giving a kid a bath is a lot like washing a dish that keeps slipping out of your hands.

  • Lilly

    What a wonderful story (I read it a few days ago but had trouble leaving a comment for some reason, so I am back to do that now) and one I can certainly identify with. It made me childhood. As kids we always did the washing up in pairs. One of my sisters always conveniently had to go to the bathroom around washing up time. It resulted in many fights, lol. Now of course, like you, I enjoy the sense of order and the fact I have a routine and everything has its place. It has become a pleasure. Lovely post.

  • Lilly

    That is so true, workplaces are the worst. For some reason people do not bother cleaning up after themselves and it is usually left to one or two to do. Every workplace seems to have large sings reminding people about basic courtesys.