Establishing Ownership

As the kids have gotten older, my wife and I have expanded their household duties. One of their most recent tasks is helping with the folding and separating of laundry.

You’d think this would be pretty easy. The 8-year old is significantly smaller than the 10-year old, and both of them are much smaller than my wife and I. Differentiating whose clothes are whose should be easy.

There’s a wrinkle to the problem, though. There are plenty of clothes that my oldest has outgrown and now belong to his younger brother. He has a tough time handing over shorts and shirts that he’s used to owning, especially when it’s still possible (though not particularly comfortable) for him to wear them. Making things worse is that I have a horrible memory for that sort of thing. I have no idea which shorts or shirts have been handed down and which haven’t.

The other day, they had a major tussle over the ownership of a pair of shorts. My wife and I were in the bedroom, me writing and her working on her laptop. She left to check on them, but couldn’t remember who owned the shorts either, which seriously escalated the situation. Facing two outraged and upset boys, she pulled one of my moves: a full retreat, accompanied by an admonishment for them to work it out.

She’d barely made it back into the bedroom, when one of them (and I won’t say who) let out a disgusted shout. “Ew!” He ran to our bedroom. “He licked them!”

I looked up from my computer. “What?”

“He licked them! He… he licked them!”

I quickly lifted a stack of papers to hide my face. There’s no way I could stop myself from grinning with that one.

The other son poked his head around the corner, also clearly trying to hide a grin. “No, I didn’t!”

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