(Not my guest bedroom where this Life Lesson occurred,
but my very comfortable bed at a charming hotel in Saumur from that April 2014 trip.
I have asked Santa to find and bring this comforter duvet thing to me for Christmas.
Soft natural linen on one side, soft furry stuff on the other side.)
My son is leaving for college in a year, and it occurred to me that I had been remiss (along with many things along the way, such as not being well enough informed of how early I needed to start nagging about college applications, being afraid to look at his grades, living in denial about the state of his closet, etc.) in that he still lacked many life skills. But as he has been living with me his single working mom for years now he does have some skills in the Daily Household Living category: doing his own laundry, unloading the dishwasher, making rudimentary quesadillas (cut pieces from block of cheese crudely with knife; put cheese on tortilla; microwave; eat). And he has been putting his own plates away in the dishwasher since elementary school and occasionally setting the table--at least when I remember to yell upstairs and ask.
But it's time to ramp up the household daily life skills before he gets away from me. And so I started him on a series Life Skills, Cycle of Life Lessons this week in the summer, which I announced to him with very little reaction from him. I was getting pretty tired of his sitting around with a pulled/tight hamstring watching TV as I was figuring all day at home looking at international economic development issues and patent portfolios.
I decided he needed a behind-the-scenes look at some tasks, starting with the bed and its linens, to see all the mystery of how clean sheets managed to end up on a bed. House guests were arriving soon for the guest bedroom downstairs anyway.
Lesson One. Life Cycle of a Set of Sheets.
1. Strip the bed.
He did so. Overly well, in fact, as he also took off all the shams to the decorative pillows. This was an added bonus, as it allowed for a vocabulary lesson ("pillow sham"; "duvet").
2. Wash the sheets.
Then he had to take all that upstairs and place it all in the washing machine and start the washing machine. Then place them in the dryer. This was the easy part for him.
3. Make the bed with clean set of sheets.
Then it was time to actually make the bed. This was a good time for more vocabulary ("hospital corners" and "taut") and some family history about how my mom, his grandmother, became so expert at making a nice, taut, perfectly tucked-in bed from watching porters on the train trips her family took in the summers (back when that was an elegant way to travel).
He did not seem to care which side of the flat sheet was the one folded down nicely, so I set him straight on that. There was another lesson when putting the pillow case on the pillow: make sure the side of the pillow getting shoved in there first is the side with that annoying tag. I should rip those off anyway.
4. Finishing touches: the rest of the pillows.
A day later he had to get those shams from the dryer to put on the pillows. I finally took a look at how he did. The big square shams were on the big square pillows. Just a little more tucking in required to get that particular part of the pillow tucked in snugly into that flap of the sham. Not bad, considering that was a pretty advanced maneuver for bed-making.
The next lesson: "Life Cycle of Cooking 2-3 Meals a Day During the Summer while Mom Works at Home and Teenager Kills Time in Front of TV until Baseball Practice." I am anxious to see how he does with the delightful monotony of preparing a meal, eating, and cleaning up (which includes wiping down the counters too) three times a day. I told him this was all just to make sure he did not take these things for granted when they were done for him.
Today though, I asked if he cleaned up after lunch (I made him a real lunch that required messing up the kitchen again: a hamburger). He said yes, and added that he started the dishwasher. So, so proud. Now about those college applications....