As promised, here is the first post reflecting on my own history of doing the dishes at home.
We moved to Chugiak, Alaska the summer before I started first grade. When my parents separated the summer before I started third grade, my dad moved to a two bedroom house a couple miles away in Eagle River in the same school attendance zone. Under the custody agreement he had us Tuesday and Thursday after school and every other weekend.
The house didn’t have a dishwasher, so everything had to be done by hand and my sister and I took turns helping him do the dishes. He had a divided sink with a drying rack to the left side of the sink and open counter space to the right. He would stand at the right sink and wash the dishes, the sink full of soapy water. I would stand at the left sink to rinse dishes and put them on the rack, letting the sink fill up with rinse water so I could use that water instead of water from the faucet. If the rack filled up and we still had more to wash, I would towel dry some of the dishes. I also played quality control, occasionally noticing when my dad had missed a spot.
I’ve come to realize many of my beliefs about the “right” way to do dishes by hand are simply how I learned to do them with my dad. One thing that I still see as cut and dry: not putting sharp objects under soapy water. I remember one time when somehow a knife ended up under the suds my dad used a drinking glass like a glass bottom boat to be able to see through the suds. That was fun.
These are fond memories. Time alone talking with my dad, the warm water on my hands, doing something useful.
One thing I’ve come to appreciate about it is the approach of teaching a child to do housework: doing the work together.
Next post in series: Memories of dishes: adolescence in San Jose.