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Little Spouse On The Prairie: Clean Your Plate

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Joel does the dishes. Always.

Joel does the dishes. Always. I’m ashamed to admit this because Joel works all day – as do I – and it doesn’t seem fair that he’s then left with the household chore that I despise most of all. I do struggle from time to time with the old-fashioned idea that doing the dishes is the wife’s job. As a big proponent of equal rights, I’ve decided to deal with the guilt.

We do have a dishwasher. I’m determined never to complain about how he loads it. After all, one of the tips posted on the Little Spouse social media pages a few weeks ago was, “If your spouse loads the dishwasher, assume the dishes are loaded exactly right. Resist the urge to check.”

I have been known to complain just a little about when he loads it though. Lately, he’s been putting the dishes in at around 5:30 in the morning before he goes to shingle in the 100-degree heat all day. I just feel that having them sit in the sink all night is inviting odor and vermin -- and just knowing they’re sitting in the sink keeps me up some at night.

Joel always gets a good laugh out of the “washing dishes with cold water” joke. I doubt he’s told it quite as many times as he’s done the dishes, but he does get mileage out of it. You know the one.

A kid visits his grandpa. He notices some smears on his sandwich plate, so he says, “Grandpa, this plate seems dirty.”

His grandpa replies, “That plate’s as clean as cold water can get it.” The kid shrugs and eats his sandwich.

When his grandpa brings out dessert, the kid notices his fork has some debris stuck between the tines. He says, “Grandpa, this fork is not clean.” His grandpa replies, “That fork is as clean as cold water can get it. Now, eat your pie.”

When the meal is finished, the kid’s grandpa stacks the dishes, carries them to the back door and opens it. Then he hollers, “Coldwater! Coldwater! Time to come up and do the dishes, boy.”

We don’t need a dog named Coldwater to do dishes at our house. Joel’s plate looks like it just came out of the dishwasher after he’s through eating. Seriously, I don’t see how, short of licking the plate, (which he does not do) he can get it that clean. My junior high son’s appears to be spotless too, but that’s because his food never touches the plate in the first place. I won’t make that claim about his shirt, however.

If, after the rest of us are finished eating, there’s a stray bite of food left, Joel will eat it as he’s loading the dishwasher. He doesn’t want to run the garbage disposal too much, nor waste any food. We’ve had a few problems when one of the kids leaves the table momentarily to refill a water glass and returns to find his or her meal missing. “What? I thought she was done,” is Joel’s typical response. And he’s the skinny one!

A while back, a friend of mine tried a new diet. This plan consisted of always leaving one bite of food on her plate at the end of the meal. Her husband, who often cooked and served meals, got so annoyed that he gradually started reducing her servings, one bite at a time. At the end of two weeks, he only gave her one bite of food on her plate, to begin with. He was trying to see if she would eventually clean her plate. She never did. He finally gave up and went back to regular sized portions, resigning himself to wasting food at every meal. My friend was furious, because she had been down nine pounds, and once her husband resumed serving full-sized portions, her weight quickly rebounded.

The more judgmental listeners may be wondering why my kids don’t do the dishes. But by the time they’ve watched several YouTube tutorials about how to wash dishes, Joel’s already got them finished.

Follow Little Spouse at facebook.com/littlespouseontheprairie or on Twitter at SpouseOnThePrairie@ValerieKuchera.