Coffee, Laundry, Dry Cleaners: A Conversation with a Child
Kathy Fish

This coffee is good. It is Folgers coffee. I got a big can of it at the grocery store. I think I shall have another cup. I usually have three or four cups of coffee per day. Out the window, I see other houses in the neighborhood. They look pretty much exactly like mine. What shall I do today? Well, there is laundry. I have a load of white laundry and a load of towels. Maybe I’ll put some cream in my coffee. Oh, look at the time. I need to wake up my daughter and get her ready for school.

I go into Mary’s room. She is curled up under the blankets.

“Good morning, little one.”

Mary wakes up.

“Get your clothes on and come downstairs,” I tell her.

I make breakfast for Mary. It is bacon and scrambled eggs. It is Monday and we always have bacon and scrambled eggs on Mondays. I use the sauté pan. On Tuesday, we have oatmeal with raisins and milk in it. I have a pot for the oatmeal. On Wednesday, we have pancakes. Pancakes, I make on the skillet. On Thursday, we have Cheerios and toast. We just put the Cheerios in bowls and the toast we put on plates. On Friday, we have eggs over easy and sausages. Egg over easy and sausages I make in the sauté pan. On Saturday, we have Cheerios again. Again, bowls. And on Sunday, we always go out to breakfast at a restaurant. It is the same every week without exception.

Little Mary is eating her breakfast and I am drinking coffee, looking out the window, thinking about the day ahead.

“Mary, you always help me and you are a good girl for helping me. Now, besides laundry, what shall I do?” I ask her.

“I don’t know,” she says. She is eating her breakfast hungrily.

“I might take your dad’s suit to the dry cleaners,” I  say. The dry cleaners is located two miles from my home. The drive takes approximately five minutes. They do a good job.

“What will you do besides laundry today and going to the dry cleaners?” Mary asks.

“I don’t know.” Then I tell her, “The weather is good, so you only have to wear a light jacket today.”

If the weather is snowy, she wears her snow pants, boots, mittens or gloves, stocking cap and her warm, winter coat. If the weather is rainy, she wears her raincoat and galoshes. On rainy days, she carries her umbrella. But sometimes it’s only a little rainy, so on those days, it’s OK to just put her hood up over her head and leave the umbrella at home. On hot days, she wears shorts and a t-shirt without a jacket of any kind. Sometimes it rains on hot days and then she must carry her umbrella. But as I said, today the weather is good, so she only has to wear her light jacket.

Mary asks, “May I have more eggs?”

“Yes,” I say and put more on her plate. Mary enjoys scrambled eggs.

Mary says, “Tell me about the laundry, Mother.”

And so I do. I tell her that I put one cup of detergent into the washing machine, turn it on and put the load of clothes in. I tell her that sometimes there is a stain that I must pre-treat. This doesn’t happen very often. Most of the time, I tell her, I just throw the load of clothes into the machine without having to pre-treat for stains.

She chews her food and nods.

“What will you do besides laundry today and going to the dry cleaners?” she asks.

We both look out the window. I think about Little Mary’s question. I consider how I shall answer it and then, after some time, I give her the answer.

“I could do many things,” I say. “I could, for example, sit down and have another cup of coffee. The coffee is good. Or, alternatively, I could go upstairs and make the beds. Making beds is something I don’t mind doing.”

“I could go over to Grandma’s and help her to clean her house. I could do Grandma’s laundry and I could mop Grandma’s floors. Mopping floors is also something I don’t mind doing.

“Another thing I could do today is dust. I could dust all the furniture and I could dust the blinds. I could dust for approximately two hours.”

“Well,” Mary says as she wipes her face with a napkin and rises from her chair, “it is time for me to go to school. Where is my light jacket?”

“Ah, your light jacket,” I say. “I believe it is in the closet where we keep the jackets, both light and heavy.” The closet also contains the hats, the mittens, the gloves, the boots, the galoshes and the umbrellas.

She gets her jacket out of the closet and puts it on. She picks up her school bag and kisses me goodbye.

“Have a nice day, Mother,” she says.

I look at Mary and I tell her to have a nice day also.

When she is gone, I rinse my cup in the sink and get started on that laundry. I have many things to do today and I don’t mind doing them.

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