As a young girl growing up in a very “traditional” home I often watched my mother clean the house with a diligence that would make even her mother proud. No corner went unnoticed, no window went unwashed, no cobweb made a home. Dust bunnies were extinct! But it was in the kitchen that you really noticed this the most.
This was her domain and she kept it spotless. Every cabinet was organized, every container labeled, every shelf covered with flowered paper. You could open a drawer in total darkness and find a knife, fork and spoon. Her motto was “a place for everything, and everything in its place” and she lived that! Plates were stacked in proper order, glasses and cups lived side by side and the pots and pans were nested like Russian Matryoshka Dolls. The counters and stove sparkled at all times and YES, you could eat off her floor. This woman was a pro!
So…when I would find myself in trouble, I knew that the punishment I would be facing was “kitchen detail”.
This was the one punishment I hated the most. Why? Because unlike other cleaning punishments it is the one that you just can’t fake, take short cuts on, or just “sweep under the rug” so to speak. If a dish or a pot isn’t clean…it just isn’t clean and you can tell. Vacuuming and dusting, pulling weeds in the garden, and even cleaning the bathrooms were always much preferred because you could take short cuts.
The worst punishment, which was always reserved for the times I “really” was in trouble meant scrubbing pots and pans. Now my mother was not one of those “new age” mom’s who had pots and pans with Teflon in them. She was old-fashioned and every pot in the place was either Stainless Steel or Aluminum, and many of them had been handed down from her mother.
For those of you who don’t know what happens when you mix hot water and salt in an Aluminum pot let me tell you that it’s not pretty. The damn thing oxidizes and turns black. While you will have perfect pasta every time you will be left with a pot from hell when it comes to cleaning but this never seemed to bother Mom.
I would stand in the kitchen and watch this woman scrub a blackened pot with a tiny Brillo pad until it looked brand new again and be amazed that she never seemed to mind doing it, but when it was handed to me as my punishment, I was sure my arms would just fall on the floor before I had it shining to her standards. I would scrub and mumble, scrub and mumble. This was torture for sure, shouldn’t someone call DSS?
It always took me far longer to clean the pot than it should because I always thought I could just do it half way. That meant several attempts because she would come in and inspect it, hand it back and say…”do it again”. Had I wised up and just done it right the first time I probably would have gotten to play outside much sooner. When I protested she would tell me that scrubbing a pot was going to teach me things nothing else could. I of course would roll my eyes and just think “yeah, your crazy”, just because you get a thrill out of it doesn’t mean I am learning anything.
Years later those words made perfect sense to me. I finally got the lessons and I have to tell you they are priceless.
So…what did I learn? Well, there is a satisfaction in scrubbing a black pot till it shines, but beyond that, what a way to get rid of tension, frustration and anger! On more than on occasion I scrubbed a pot instead of killing a husband, child or pet, just as my Mom had done. I also found that while I was scrubbing I could let my brain go and solve many a problem. I also found it to be a great method of punishment for my own kids, because like my mother before me, I had lessons to teach.
So I have to thank Mom really for her “pot therapy” and the hand me down pots to go with it. It may be a bit unconventional but it works, and I am sure that my own kids will at some point understand just as I did.
LIFE LESSON: Keep your Teflon pots and pans. Hand me the old one that needs a good scrubbing and get out of my way…I need to relax!