Who Likes Dirty Dishes?

As I looked at the stack of dirty dishes, my good spirits fell. “Who likes dirty dishes? Not me!” I thought. First I began to put away the dishes that my son, Rick, had done the night before. A pretty good job, I mused. But the bread pans were still greasy. I added them to the dishes that needed washing. Fifteen-year-old boys don’t like doing dishes. If I hurried, he would never know that I had washed the pans over again. I could tell him that he had done a good job and that would make him feel good.

I plunged my hands into the hot, soapy water, grimly washing each milk glass and each bowl with cereal dried onto it. Grabbing a handful of silverware, I dropped them into the sink. A pink plastic spoon, specially curved for tiny toddler’s hands, came floating to the top of the bubbles. I smiled as I remembered. It had been given to me for a baby girl at my last baby shower almost two years ago. I almost laughed out loud as I thought of our sturdy little boy, my fifth boy in a row, spooning soup into his mouth as fast as he could with a girl’s pink spoon.

As I started to wash the rest of the silverware, other pleasant memories surged through my mind. The sharp, serrated bread knife reminded me of the happy hands of my children reaching for thick slices of hot bread to butter and spread with homemade peach jam. I wondered if one particular knife was the one eight-year-old Jimmy used this morning to butter the bread that he dunked into his hot cereal every time he thought I wasn’t looking. Maybe this spoon was the one that Franky had used to put enough sugar in his cereal to make it almost as sweet as he can be when he gives me a tight hug and a quick kiss.

As I washed the almost-clean bread pans over again, I recalled the large, strong hands of my tall son doing his work in the house but longing to be astride the horse he had lovingly trained from a bucking colt into a gentle grey friend.

I picked up the cake pan that had been filled the night before last by eleven-year-old Abie. He made a cake so that his granddaddy could take a piece in his lunch the next day. As I washed out the crumbs and scraped off the chocolate frosting a thoughtful seventeen-year-old sister had made to top the cake, I remember the effort Laurie had made that night to get dinner for the boys, her granddad, me, and herself. Laurie, who loves to sing, play the piano, and sew beautiful clothing for herself and others, ignored her own loves as she worked steadily to fill the pans and dishes to feed the family and relieve a mother who was ill.

My last pan to wash was the one I had used that day to heat last night’s homemade soup. My mind lingered over the sweet and lavish compliments my husband had made as he buttered the homemade bread and eagerly spooned down the soup.

What a priceless gift each dirty dish can be! Each one tells me that someone in my family daily fills a need in all of us. Every dish tells me that my husband works long and hard to fill each pot, pan, plate, and glass, so that my family’s temporal needs can be met. Each one tells me of the love and unity our family shares.

So who likes dirty dishes? I do! Utahna Young, Roosevelt, Utah

Better Than a Bib

Mealtime with my five-month-old daughter would generally end up as bath time. She would commandeer the spoon, get cereal on her hands, then smear it on her hair and clothes. Quite a mess!

We’ve solved the problem by wrapping her up in a hooded bath towel and pinning it shut. The hood keeps her hair clean, the towel makes clean up easier—and she looks forward to being wrapped up in the “hat.” Rochelle Hamel, Tacoma, Washington

Homespun Nursery

One of the most entertaining and least expensive ways to teach young children is to create your own nursery school on half-hour tapes. All it takes is a simple tape recorder, some tapes, and some inexpensive children’s books.

Collecting Material

Choose stories that are short, entertaining, and worthy of being heard dozens of times. Two themes for each tape is about right. Not all of your books will neatly emphasize the themes you want, but you can comment, or even better, question, as you read. (“See Sally’s dress. What color is it? Yes, it is red. It is a pretty red dress.”)

To choose themes, consider the developmental stage of your child and what he should be learning. Preschoolers could be learning sequential information (days of the week, months of the year, books of scripture in order—taught by songs); love of music (classical music as background for some stories; the scales); cleanliness; order (“After you get up from the table, what do you do? That’s right, you carry your plate to the sink. Then what do you do? Of course, you brush your teeth”); directions (up, down, around, over: “Where is the doll on this page?”); and courtesy.

Include some physical activities your child would enjoy as a break for a minute or two, such as, “Jack Be Nimble,” walking like an elephant, hopping like a rabbit, marching. Also select hymns, Primary songs, or other material that emphasizes your gospel values, so that you can ask the child to sing with you. One verse will probably be enough.

Your child also needs to know his full name, address, telephone number, parents’ names, and what to do when lost. Short scripture verses, one to a tape, are easily memorized.

Organizing Material

Before you start recording your nursery tapes, get a looseleaf notebook with a page for each theme and then list the materials you want to use with each tape: Each tape will take quite a bit of material, since you cannot repeat yourself as you would in a live nursery-school situation.


Choose the two themes for which you have the most material. Mark in the notebook the materials you might like to use and the order in which you will present them.

Gather up the child and the materials. Explain to him what you are going to do. Speak slowly and distinctly into the mike on the tape recorder, using good grammar and simple vocabulary. Start the tape off with a story. Animate each character with your voice.

Children like stories best but also need activities, comments, and questions. As you turn the page, say “please turn the page,” as a cue for the child when he is alone with the tape. Allow the child to interrupt as you go. Children are fascinated by their own voices on tape.

Using Tapes

Listen to every tape the first few times with the child to ensure good participation. Later, when he listens alone, you can tell if the child is really listening to the tape by watching to see if he actually follows along. If he does not participate or is bored, do not hesitate to tape over that section with something else.

When listening those first few times, listen to your delivery—enunciation, loudness, variety, and transitions—and learn from it. Keep your notebook handy to jot down comments or new ideas. You may want to turn off the tape to instruct the child when necessary.

Attach to each tape a label listing the books and equipment needed (like the stuffed animal needed for “Ring-Around-the-Rosy” for a lone child. Color-key your books to each tape so the child can select his own books. This can be done by putting a colored label on the book that matches a similarly colored label on the tape; even if children do not read, they will still be able to match colors. When taping, to make sure he selects the correct book, say, “We are going to listen to ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf.’ There are sheep on the cover, and it has a blue label.”

Date each tape and identify yourself. Some tapes may very well survive as an important part of your family history! Marty Smith, Carthage, Missouri

No More Mildew

I recently noticed extensive mildew on my shower curtain and scrubbed it with scouring powder and a brush, but to no avail.

Finally, I put the shower curtain in my washing machine with two bath towels and washed them as I would a regular load. The mildew was removed completely. Susan L. Pixley, Bad Aibling Station, Germany

[illustrations] Illustrated by Scott Greer

[photos] Photography by Eldon Linschoten