Tracy Beckerman: Buried in dirty laundry

Tracy Beckerman

When the time came to pick a summer camp for the kids, we looked for a place with a kind, nurturing staff, a place that would teach the kids an appreciation for nature and the environment, and a place where the kids would make really good friends.

Unfortunately, nowhere on that list was a category for laundry.

Having been a camper myself, I knew that the camp laundry service was not going to do as great a job at getting my kids’ clothes dirt-free as I, Super Laundry Queen, would do. However, I hoped that the clothes would at least return home resembling the clothes they had taken to camp.

When I sent the bags to camp, they looked like a page from an L.L. Bean catalog. When the bags came back, they looked like an explosion had gone off at the L.L. Bean factory. There were clean (?) towels with dirty soccer cleats, wet bathing suits with muddy hiking boots, and dirty socks stuffed inside the boots. Everything that had once been pink, white or yellow was now gray, and everything that had been gray was now streaked with pink.

The kids were happy campers. I was not.

The second year the trunks came home from camp, I secretly hoped that everything would be so disgusting I could simply dump the whole mess in the trash and call it a day.

After the trunks were delivered, I did a few Buddhist chants for serenity, donned my gas mask and unzipped. As I peered in, warm, damp air blasted out of the bags, followed by a daddy long legs spider and a couple of his friends. Not a good beginning.

Calmly, I zipped the bags back up, walked outside and screamed.

Returning to the laundry room, I realized I was completely out of radiation suits, so I put on a garbage bag and started sorting. The final total was 14 loads. Fourteen trips to the basement. Fourteen hours of washing and folding. Seven times as many loads of laundry as there were children who’d generated it.

At some point, my husband tentatively tip-toed in to see how I was doing.

“How’s it going there, Super Laundry Queen?” he asked.

I glowered at him.

“Any surprises?” he wondered.

“When I unzipped the bags, a couple of stink bugs climbed out,” I said.

He sniffed the laundry room and wrinkled his nose. “Yeah, I’m sure they were right at home.”

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