Last night our dishwasher let out a screech and stopped working.  My husband tried everything he knew to get it running, but finally declared the appliance deceased.  We did what any super busy family would do.  We went to bed.

This morning I had to face the ribs and potatoes dishes from last night and the cookie sheets from our cinnamon crescent roll breakfast.  A part of me felt like complaining at the additional time it would take  to get the dishes done.  But, I knew complaining would get me absolutely nothing, so I bit my tongue and, instead, rolled up my sleeves and began filling the kitchen sink with hot water and dish soap.        

Doing the dishes by hand brought back many memories.  I grew up in a family of eight children that did not own a dishwasher.  Our large family created many dirty dishes at mealtimes and we each had to take our turn washing the dishes by hand.  As a teenager I developed a system that I thought very efficient.   First, let all utensils soak in the sudsy water as the sink fills, then wash dishes in this order: utensils, glasses, plates, bowls, mixing bowls, and finally pans.  I used to tell my siblings my order was best.  I think they all ignored me and developed their own system for doing the dishes.

I was pleasantly surprised  to see that I remembered my system today as I washed the dishes.  Since we have become so dependent on our dishwasher we don’t own a dish rack to let dishes air dry.  I solved the problem by placing the wet dishes inside the dishwasher and I made sure to share my problem solving ability with my husband.  I don’t think he was as proud of me as I was.

Trying to remain positive in spite of my morning routine being derailed by a bunch of dirty dishes, I started to think of what our family could learn from the death of our well-used appliance.  This is the perfect opportunity to let the kids hear how grateful I am that we have an emergency savings account.  We will not have to go into debt to buy a new dishwasher.  We will be able to pay for one in cash.  And, as a little plug for myself, I think I’ll let the kids know that most of the money in our emergency savings account has come from what I earn as a substitute teacher and as a crossing guard.  Perhaps they won’t tease me as much about doing my crossings if they know that my doing so has prevented them from having to do dishes by hand for the rest of the time they live under our roof.

Finding the time to buy a new dishwasher is going to be the real challenge.  Some, maybe even all, of the children will get a chance to do dishes by hand before we find the time to shop.  Yes!  Will they appreciate modern conveniences more?  Probably so.  Will they still take modern conveniences for granted?  Maybe not for a little while.  Will they learn that sometimes circumstances require adapting and problem solving?  I truly hope so!

“Huh” is the poor unfortunate soul who gets to experience adapting and problem solving first.  She is assigned evening dish duty for the week.  I may not tell her that I let the dishes air dry in the dead dishwasher.  I think I want to see how she solves the problem herself.  One thing for sure, we are all going to hear her loudly ask, “why do these things always happen to me?”  And her siblings and step-siblings are all going to be secretly glad that it wasn’t their turn for dishes.