What’s in the Fifth Grader’s Laundry Basket?

photo-29I feel like I spend an inordinate amount of time doing my 11-year-old son’s laundry. Every time I turn around, the hamper in his room is full or he’s just returned from a weekend at his father’s with an overnight bag brimming with dirty socks.

Luckily, his is the only other pile of dirty clothes that’s my problem nowadays, so I don’t really do the laundry as much as I used to. Back in the day, when I was doing all four kids plus my then-husband’s wash, I put a load or two in every day. There was no way around that. But then I threw in the towel (LOL) and told the older three that they were on their own in the laundry department.

So now that it’s just me and the fifth grader, I only do laundry like twice, maybe three times a week, or whenever I run out of exercise bras.

But even though I’m only doing the wash every three days, for some reason, I’m washing what seems like a week’s worth of my little guy’s clothes. There’s no correlation between the number of days and amount of laundry. The load I folded this morning, consisting of about four day’s worth of clothes, contained the following items:

  • 11 t-shirts/athletic jerseys
  • 6 pairs athletic shorts
  • 4 pairs socks
  • 2 pairs regular shorts
  • 1 baseball uniform
  • 1 pair underwear
From left: xxxxxx

From left: 8 pairs of shorts, 11 t-shirts, one pair underwear.

If I didn’t already know better, I’d be wondering what was up with the underwear. Or lack thereof. But one of the upsides of having a passel of kids is having the advantage of history. I’ve found in parenting, it tends to repeat itself.

So when his older brother was the same age, he spent two weeks at sleep away camp and I was especially focused on making sure he had 14 pairs of underwear to see him through. I went to Target and bought a few packs of Fruit of the Loom, labeled them with his name, and packed them for camp.

When he returned home two weeks later, I opened the bag — preparing to be greeted by an onslaught of dirty underwear — and found instead one rumpled pair. The other 12 pairs were still neatly folded. It turns out, he changed his underwear exactly once the entire two weeks, which jibes with the one shower he reported taking during his stay as well.

“Mom,” he told me when I reacted in horror to his disregard of personal hygiene, “did you see how disgusting those showers were?”

That long car ride home was memorable less for all the Amish people in buggies we passed and more for the odor inside the car. Dirty boys of a certain age can be very ripe.

Luckily, it’s because of that older brother that I am confident that my little guy won’t always be so gross. At some point, I have seen that they grow out of it and become nice-smelling men who put on a clean new pair of underwear every day.

And I should be happy there’s just less for me to fold. Pretty soon, his dirty laundry will be his problem and I won’t have to see how many pairs of underwear he’s wearing each week.

The showering, however, will continue to be monitored because no one wants to sleep down the hall from someone who smells like a homeless person.


4 thoughts on “What’s in the Fifth Grader’s Laundry Basket?

  1. Seriously our boys were separated at birth! Our Charlie generates the most laundry – all of which is on the floor at any given time. And on the last day of Easter break when we asked our 8 year old son “When was the last time you took a shower?” He told us he hadn’t. Swimming in pools was enough for him. Lovely. So glad we are not alone in this!

  2. Ah yes….the laundry room!! i am sad to say that my family calls it my “play room” — i am always in there. ~~~ i am still trying to figure out if all of that dirty laundry makes us really clean people or really dirty!!! we may never know!!

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