The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,466 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,836 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane
Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life…
For this week’s Farm Kitchen/Table Talk Intermediate Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, I spoke to Andy’s parents about letting him come over once a week for a month to, uh, well, do my dishes.
I know, these badges rock, am I right?
No, in all seriousness, it is a skill that kids these days need to learn, and well, if it happened to coincide with the breaking of my dishwasher, hey, that’s just a happy coincidence. Can I get an amen?
And it’s not just a skill for girls and women, as this 1930s poster from the Illinois State Employment Service implies …
1930s poster from the Work Projects Administration Poster Collection, via Wikimedia Commons
So, each Friday evening, after my date night with Mr. Wonderful, Andy trudged over and we got to work. I now call him Mr. Wonderful-in-Training.
Dishwashers have been around oh, for a long time now. Feel free to Google how long, but it’s safe to say this generation of American kiddos have not lived without them, and while some have the chore of loading up or unloading said machine, the majority have probably never had to do a sinkful by hand.
This is where I came in, chickadees. There’s an art to hand washing dishes, if I do say so myself. And really, it’s kind of soothing and therapeutic. (Not that I want Fridays back. I’m enjoying the little respite.)
First, a little organization. Mr. Wonderful-in-Training was all set to toss (and I do mean toss; the kid has a wicked curve ball) the entire dinner’s worth of cutlery, plates, pots, and pans, into the sink together. I explained that he needed a method to his madness: like, any method. Preferably one that didn’t mix steak knives with my good china.
Jackie Cooper, 1955, NBC Television via Wikimedia Commons
So, into the bubbles went all the forks and spoons on the right side. Steak knives and any other knives into the left. (Keeping them separate cuts down on nicks and pokes. Get it? Cuts down? Ha!) Then we gently set down the plates, which of course, had been rinsed. You can scrape supper remains into your composting bin, or if your dinner has been doggy friendly, straight into your mutt’s mouth and into his tummy.
Rinsing depends on your sink, naturally. If you have two sides, one little person can wash, while the other rinses on the other side. If you’re blessed with three pint-sized servants offspring, the third can dry and put away. It’ll be a rugrat brigade!
After the plates and cutlery were finished, we added a bit more hot water and another squirt of soap, and also the pots and pans and serving dishes. I had made ribs and mashed potatoes that first Friday, so we had a lot of tough, sticky, starchy, things to work on. Mr. Wonderful-in-Training was up to the challenge though, and by the time he was done, everything was (mostly) shiny and spotless. My sponge had to be thrown out though; Andy used some serious elbow grease. Must be all those curve balls he’s been working on.
Now, if you’re going to help your whippersnapper earn this badge, I’d say there’s a magical age for it: between 4 and 11 is my bet. For the shorties, get a stool that’s sturdy. If you want to make it even more fun, add some gloves in a colorful print, some sponges, and a yummy smelling dish soap.
Voila! Clean kitchen and ever-so-moisturized children will ensue.
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