A number of years ago I went on a 5-day field trip with my son’s 5th grade class. We went to Homer, Alaska and then crossed the bay to a place called Kachemak Bay. We spent one night in Homer on the way down, 2 nights and 3 days at Kachemak Bay and then one more night in Homer before heading home. While in Kachemak bay we had to wash our dishes by hand. I grew up washing dishes, most of the other adults had as well, but it was very evident that most of the kids had never washed a dish in their life. In an effort to not get sick from the kids lack of knowledge on how to wash dishes, I went through a really quick tutorial for all the kids on how to wash dishes properly. It didn’t totally fix the problem, but it did help some.

Some time there after my dishwasher quit working. My husband had fixed this particular dishwasher on a couple of occasions and decided it was no longer worth it to fix it, we just needed to get a new one. We went looking at dishwashers, and since the last time we had bought one the price had doubled, even for the cheap ones. I decided it was a great opportunity to give the kids the experience of washing dishes on a daily basis, by hand. My kids had learned to wash dishes prior to this time, but they hadn’t had to help wash all the dishes for an extended period of time. When I was a kid, I hated washing the dishes, but as we proceeded with this extended period of time, I realized that it wasn’t that bad, didn’t take as long as I remembered when I was a kid, and I felt like the dishes got cleaner anyway. I also realized rather quickly what a great opportunity it was for my kids to open up and share things with me. Big things, fun little things from their day, or whatever, but they had my undivided attention for the 20 or so minutes we were standing there working together and it was great!

After about 6 months I decided it was time for a new dishwasher. School had started, sports and after school activities had begun and we just didn’t have as much time as we did through the spring and summer when it first quit. We got a new dishwasher shortly thereafter, and the kids rejoiced at the prospect of not having to do the dishes any longer, although for me it was bittersweet. I needed the extra time for other things, but I had certainly enjoyed the one-on-one time with my kids every evening as well as the feel of the really clean dishes (I think handwashing gets the dishes cleaner).

About 2 weeks ago my dishwasher quit again. My husband is in the middle of his busiest time of year, and I know that we could go out and get a new dishwasher, but I have no idea how much they cost now, and with the rate of inflation they may have doubled in price again. He isn’t sure if he wants to fix it but hasn’t had time to even look at it yet. So, we wash, by hand, again. I don’t know if it’s just because the kids are older or if they remember it not being so bad, but they haven’t complained once about helping out this time, and the visits are just as good as I remember them being. We go through a dishwasher about every 5-7 years, probably because I buy the cheapest one on the market. I am not sure why they wear out so fast, I clean the filter out regularly and try not to run large amounts of gunk through them. I kind of think it’s our water, it’s pretty hard and minerally. But whatever the reason, I am grateful to have learned how to wash dishes as a kid, grateful that I know it’s not that bad, and grateful that my kids so willingly help and visit with me while we work.

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