Dish Duty Diplomacy

STOCK SHOP, Dirty Dishes

I’ll admit it, I have always despised cleaning the kitchen. My daughters and I have rotating kitchen duty, so every third week it’s my job to clean up for 7 days straight- Monday through Sunday. Like I said, I loathe it when it’s my week..I think my girls feel the same when it’s their week too.

While our system has  worked reasonably well for the last 5 years or so, it is still fraught with politics, heated negotiations and plenty of strategizing. Let’s just take the dishwasher for example.. End of the week loading has become a tactical game with the ultimate goal being not to run that machine until  Sunday night. This way one can get out of emptying it one last time by pushing the cycle into Monday.  Of course the next person in line gets to start her duty week unloading pretty much every utensil, cup, plate and bowl that we own. Retaliation is to be expected and it’s  taken out on the person with duty the week after that. It’s like “paying it forward” – survivor style. Oh well, we all do it now, so at least no one is working more than anyone else.

Then there’s the left-over situation. Heaven forbid there are two noodles left in a pot, that lid goes right back on and the entire pot finds its way into the fridge so that, you know… someone can easily heat up and enjoy those two noodles for lunch the next day. Of course that’s one less pot to scrub for some lucky gal…again, a double bonus if it’s Sunday.

Additional problems to be overcome are created by birthdays, holidays or just having friends come over. Stacks of dishes that are considered beyond “reasonable and customary levels” are the subject of intense disputes. Along the same line, if you and your sleepover guests get the urge to bake brownies at 10pm, long after the kitchen has been officially cleaned by the designated cleaner, you are completely responsible for your own mess.

And if something big pops up (hot date, big game) and the dishes don’t get done one night, an additional dish-duty-day is automatically tacked on to your week. This amendment to the original agreement had to be added in response to bold and frequent violations.  The standard (my standard) had to be made clear with convincing consequences for not meeting them.  And yes, while it’s all a bit over-regulated, and no one loves it, the system still produces what it was designed to; a clean kitchen every night.

I’m pretty proud of how we’ve tackled this most hated job and after all these years of micro-managing its implementation, I feel pretty qualified to settle much larger dilemmas than whether or not certain pots qualify for overnight soaking. I really believe I am ready for bigger challenges.  I mean if I can handle Mr. Clean, then why not Mr. Putin? And if I can get a teenager to scrub the sink and take the trash outside, maybe I can get the Ayatollah in Iran to ‘scrub’ his nuclear program and take his centrifuges offline.

Yes, it’s time to refresh my resume and send it to John Kerry..

The world could use a little more order- “mommy style.”

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