Life Lessons from a Dishwasher

I have three kids, at the time of writing this, the oldest is 13. Last year she learned some valuable life lessons from the dishwasher.   

First, I believe my kids need to do chores to learn how to navigate life.  I feel like I would be failing them if I didn’t make them do the dishes, their laundry, take out the trash and other simple things around the house.  I know some parents disagree and say that’s my job but, we will agree to disagree on that.  To me, teaching them these basic skills instills responsibility, awareness, and just because I am their mother, doesn’t mean I am their maid!

One of the chores that everyone hates is doing the dishes.  The oldest child is in charge of unloading and loading the dishwasher.  How many of you know the difference between dishwashing liquid and dishwasher detergent?  

That was her first lesson!

Dishwashing liquid is used by hand, dishwasher detergent, in the dishwasher.  You cannot substitute one for the other.  She realized this when I walked into the kitchen and the floor was covered in these bright white fluffy suds and bubbles.  It literally took a few hours to get it all cleaned up and that load of dishes done.  

So, as we sat there with towels and cups, bailing the water and bubbles into the sink, I took the opportunity to discuss with her what we can all learn from this.  It was like an epiphany…

You ever have that..  a teaching moment that just pops in your head out of nowhere and you are like… wow.. that is some deep stuff!
I told her.. there’s a life lesson to be learned here.  Being the typical 12 year old she said, yeah, don’t use the wrong soap next time.  We laughed, I said ”that’s a given”.  

Seriously everyone and everything has a purpose.  Every person is given their own skill sets to develop.  When we attempt to do something completely outside of what we were designed to do, can we do it?  Sometimes, but it won’t be the most efficient manner and it may not happen without us creating a mess in the process.  I asked her these questions..

  • Are the dishes clean?  
  • Answer: Yes
  • Was this the best most efficient manner to do it?
  • Answer: No.  

That’s lesson number 2

Now for Lesson number 3

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, some people (or things) are NOT meant to work together!  If everyone operates inside of their best skill set everything will come together beautifully.  Relationships get messy when we are not paired with someone that compliments us.  Life gets messy if we are trying to force things into a place where they don’t belong.  And the kitchen gets messy when we use the wrong soap in the dishwasher.

It was like a light bulb went off and she understood.  It was one of those moments when you look back and think… what the heck just happened.  Now, because I like to turn negative things into positive results, I concluded our deep conversation with this:

  1. Everyone everything had a purpose.  
  2. Find your purpose and develop your skill sets to be successful  
  3. Sometimes people or things are not meant to be together

Do you know what the best thing that came out of all of this… my floors were clean and I didn’t have to mop!  Even in the worst situations, there is a positive side, and a lesson to be learned.

Jamie Koppi - The College Ungrad

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