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At the end of December, the fates conspired against us and our furnace and our washing machine broke close to simultaneously. We live in Vermont, where it gets so cold (it is currently -25 degrees Fahrenheit) that some schools will close upon hearing the weather forecast (not ours, thank goodness!). Accordingly, our first priority was to ensure that our house had heat and hot water. I contrived to make the washer limp along until I reached the end of my patience with it. I was sure I’d make it a few months. The new one arrived today, in all its energy-efficient, front-loading glory. 

Next to the coffee maker, the washing machine is the most important appliance in our house. If I had to, I would hand-wash our dishes. But there’s no way in hell I’d hand-wash our clothes. After my husband came home, I encouraged the five of us to crowd around it like the proverbial golden calf. They oohed and ahhed for about five seconds before the boys lost interest and drifted away.

“You may not EVER get inside this machine,” I said to Medium, who had stayed behind to watch me fold laundry.

“Why not?” asked Medium.

“Because if the door closed, you wouldn’t have enough air and you would die.”

“Oh,” she said.

“And your brothers shouldn’t ever get inside it, either.” I added, thinking I was emphasizing my point.

“Why?” she asked.

Sometimes I wonder just how much my children care for one another.


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