The other day I walked by the laundry room and the washing machine was running. I was certain I had not started a load of laundry.
I asked my husband, “There’s this big machine over there that washes our clothes–could you have bumped the start button with your elbow by accident?”
He did not. But the mystery was quickly solved.
“I did!” said our 10-year-old daughter, Janey, and announced that she is now washing her own clothes. Something about wanting to follow care instructions on the labels and not wanting her clothes to get ruined.
Admittedly, I am not a very detailed laundress. I do use the occasional squirt of Spray ‘n Wash stain remover, but other than that, I pretty much throw everything in and hope for the best, rarely changing the settings from Speed Wash and Cotton for drying.
Later, I noticed Janey ahd laid a lightweight cardigan out on a dresser to air dry.
From the beginning, Janey has quietly done things on her own terms; including her arrival. She chose her own birthday: four days after the original due date she nonchalantly appeared on August 14, 2000, at 2:38 in the morning – only two hours after I was checked into the hospital room. It was too late to call anyone to announce her birth. For hours, no one except my parents, who watched her big brother, knew she had taken her place in the world.
Matt and I began to refer to her as Stealth due to her subsequent silent missions.
Silent, because she didn’t speak until she was 3, and when she finally did talk it was in complete sentences, but so quietly and so infrequently, when she did say something, you better be listening. Unlike her sister, who has such a surplus of verbal outpouring you can tune out for a few minutes, contemplate what to make for dinner and search through your refrigerator before realizing someone is still talking to you.
At a year old Stealth managed to open the cupboard, climb and reach a package of cookies and somehow open them. When I walked in the kitchen, I found her sitting in her feetie pajamas on the kitchen floor next to the open cupboard doors, having a party for one.
Another time, during a road trip to Colorado, we had barely heard a peep out of her the entire three days. I discovered she had been documenting the journey on her camera. At 4 years old, taking shots out the window from her car seat, she had compiled quite a photo essay of the trip.
It is often the quiet person who is still long enough to notice what others may miss.
And just last night with a houseful of guests, while seven kids sat in the family room watching TV, she busied herself setting up her room to sleep two extra kids – pulling out her trundle bed and laying down a mat next to it, neatly tucking in blankets. I peeked in her room and was awash in guilt that I should be the one doing that. Just like I should be the one following the care instructions on her clothes.
Janey’s attention to detail has also earned her the title “Best Finder” in our family. When anything is missing, nine times out of 10, Janey will be the one to find it or remember where she saw it.
“Where are my keys?” I often say in a panic to no one in particular, and Janey will answer in a deadpan tone, “They are on your dresser,” or, “They are on the bathroom counter,” or, “You left them in the car.”
Sometimes I think Janey is nature’s way of helping make up for my deficiencies.
My love and admiration for her is quietly growing every day.