Month: January 2015

You Didn’t Tell Me to Put a Space.

Shane and I were out in the country, and we drove past a rural gas station. The price per gallon looked low, but I didn’t know for sure. So I decided to check – a website that allows consumers to check gas prices.

I don’t drive and type, so I handed my phone to Shane in the back seat. “Google ‘gas buddy,'” I told him as he took the phone. “It should come right up.”

“It did,” he said.

“Then click on the one that….” I said, but Shane interrupted me.

“I already did,” he said.

I was astounded. Shane is cautious and rarely ventures a step ahead of my instructions. “That’s great!” I told him. “You’re starting to think ahead! You must be at the website. Do you see a gas tank in a circle?”

“No,” he said.

“You don’t see a picture of a gas tank?” I asked again.

“I don’t see any pictures.”

For purposes of brevity, I will just say that Shane had not ventured a step ahead after all. He was still on the Google site, waiting for instructions on what to do next. It never occurred to him to click on

Eventually, with the car stopped, I clicked on the link for him. Then I walked him through the process of typing in a city/state name to get a list of gas prices. Shane adores numbers, and I thought this would be great fun.

So he typed as I assisted with spelling. He still couldn’t get a list of gas prices. I looked at the phone again. He had spelled everything right, but he didn’t type in a space between the city and state.

“You didn’t put a space between the city and state,” I said, thinking, he is in FIFTH grade! How is he going to survive in the real world?

“You didn’t tell me to put a space,” he said.

“But you know that the city and state are two separate words, right?”

“Yeah,” he said.

“So why wouldn’t you put a space between the two words?”

“I thought it was like a website or something.” He was quite serious. And suddenly, it made sense.

It occurred to me, for the first time ever, that the problem was not Shane and his inability to think. The problem might just be my constant and consistently overly specific instructions. My forceable control over every movement he makes, my dictating every single step in order to “help,” was actually hindering his progress – and not helping anyone.

So I started over completely, I got the phone back to the home screen and then I handed it back to my incredibly smart son, who most certainly was capable of handling this simple task.

I said, “Okay, Shane. I have an idea. Go to and find out what the gas prices are in this city.”

And he did. Within two minutes, he was able to tell me what the gas prices were in our rural location.

All I had to do was back off, and let him think for himself.

And while I do hate resolutions, I consider it essential that I create one now: I will back off and let my kids think for themselves. Not just for 2015, but for the rest of time.

It will take a lot of practice. I am a control freak. But if it means that my kids will be better equipped to handle life, then it is worth the effort.

And also, gas prices were 13 cents per gallon cheaper at home, so we got gas later.

I Have to Do 250 Loads of Laundry.

With such excess everywhere at this time of year, I wanted to dwell on an excess of my own: dryer sheets.

I don’t enjoy doing laundry, but I try to do it well. As soon as the hampers start to overflow, I wash. Sometimes I wash before they overflow. And I do my best to ensure that if one of my kids needs specific attire on an upcoming day, that said attire is clean and dry.

I also fold and sort the clean stuff, so that each person gets one pile. Dylan is very good at picking up his clean laundry, since he only owns three pairs of pants that fit him. Shane, however, is a bit less enthusiastic about his clothes. He only picks up when asked; then he shoves it into balls in his drawer.

But I digress.

I just opened a brand new box of dryer sheets. I buy my dryer sheets at Costco, which means I buy a few boxes at a time. Whenever I open the last new box, I usually put dryer sheets on my Costco list, so that I don’t forget to buy them. Heaven forbid. I wouldn’t want one moment of static cling on my chemical-free, bleach-free, scent-free laundry!

As I opened the box, however, I noticed the number boldly printed on front: 250. I was holding a box with 250 dryer sheets in it. And as I tore the cardboard from its top, I gave this a moment’s thought.

I have to do 250 loads of laundry before I need a new box. Do I really need to put dryer sheets on my Costco list today?

Let’s say I do four loads of laundry a week. With two kids, this is not unreasonable – although it is improbable, given how I procrastinate. But just for the sake of argument, I thought, perhaps I will do four loads of laundry per week.

That’s 62 (and a half) weeks before I will need another box of dryer sheets. There are only 52 weeks in a year!

But just in case I really need to buy those dryer sheets now, let’s say I get really crazy and I do FIVE loads of laundry per week. Or even SIX loads per week. Five loads per week still means it’s nearly a year before I need another box – and even six loads a week is still more than 40 weeks.

It would be insane for me to buy dryer sheets now. What if the house burns down? What a waste of $12 that would be.

Interestingly, though, it’s not the excess amount of dryer sheets in my cupboard that bothers me.

It’s that I can’t for the life of me figure out when to buy dryer sheets, if I don’t buy them right now. If they don’t go on my list, I am afraid that I will forget to buy them until it’s too late and I will open that cupboard to get a new box and – oh no! There will be no new dryer sheets.

In 40 to 62 weeks.

But I am going to wing it. I’m going to be totally radical and not buy dryer sheets yet. Who knows? I may be so rad, I’ll do a load of laundry – or even two! – without using a dryer sheet at all.

And these are the things that make me worry that I’m a bad mom. Because God knows, those poor kids could grow up to be just like me.

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