“Hey, Mom, can you teach me how to iron my shirts?”
As soon as my son posed the question, a chorus of angels and heavenly hosts burst into song, praising God and giving glory.
Or maybe that was just me.
As any mother knows, sons do not iron. We do not even want them to iron, as the likely result will be singed clothing, a possible fire and at least first degree burns.
However, there comes a time in every son’s life (in this particular son’s life, it was age 27, a big-boy job that required appropriate attire and a move that would take him away from his in-house ironer–me) when he must either make enough money to take his clothes to the dry cleaner, stick with a job where being rumpled is acceptable, or learn to iron.
“Sure, I’ll teach you. It’s not hard,” I replied, mentally doing my happy dance at the thought of this latest development from the incremental freedom of taking care of “kids.” (Of course I also realized that he was hoping I’d say, “Oh, don’t worry, I’ll do it for you,” but I wasn’t taking the bait.)
However, given the fact that “last minute” is somewhere listed as part of his name on his birth certificate, David asked for direction as I was getting ready to return to the shore with my daughter, Meg, who had to work the following day.
“It’s simple. Just turn on the iron and press the collar first.”
“Do you unbutton it before you start?” David asked.
Hmmm…I silently noted, an intelligent question. “Yes, I always unbutton the collar and lay it flat. Then I go to the sleeves; make sure you don’t press a crease into the top of the sleeve if you don’t want one there. Then, slide the open shirt onto the ironing board, ironing each side around until you’re done. Easy.”
“Okay,” David said, staring somewhat blankly.
“Really, you’ll be fine. It’s not that hard,” I reassured him.
Apparently, I was wrong.
Two days later, the day before he was to leave home for his new job, David called in a panic. Normally, I can talk my kids off any ledge. I’ve become an expert. But this was different; we were 85 miles apart. Plus, I was in the middle of hosting my sister and her family, along with my mother, in my home for dinner.
“MOM! I NEED HELP! I CAN’T FIGURE OUT THIS IRON!” David yelled into the phone.
“Okay, okay. Calm down! What’s the problem?” I tried in my most soothing, mommy-will-make-it-all-better voice.
“THIS IRON IS RIDICULOUS! IT HAS SO MANY BUTTONS ON IT I COULD FLY THE SPACE SHUTTLE!” David sputtered.
Admittedly, there are irons with enough buttons and switches on them to remind you of the dashboard on a jet. This iron is not one of them. I, being ever practical and, let’s just call it what it is, cheap, own a bottom-of-the-line iron. One with two wheels to set temperature and the amount of steam, as well as a mist button.
“All you have to do is set the temperature. It’s not that hard,” I said.
“HOW DO I SET THE TEMPERATURE? THERE ARE NO NUMBERS ON THIS! IT’S ALL WORDS! IT SAYS ‘COTTON, WOOL, SILK, LINEN AND SYN.’ WHAT THE HECK IS ‘SYN’?” David asked, his panic rising.
“Syn is short for synthetic. It’s the kind of material the garment is made of. So, what material are your shirts made of?” I asked, immediately regretting the question.
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I DON’T KNOW!”
Quickly regrouping, I said, “Okay, your shirts are all made of some kind of cotton or cotton blend, so set the dial to ‘cotton,’” I said calmly.
“BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CLOUDS?” he said, still yelling.
“What clouds?” I asked.
“THE ONES ON THE OTHER DIAL! THERE ARE CLOUDS, ONE, TWO AND THREE! WHAT ARE THEY FOR?” David asked, nearing hysteria.
Realizing he meant the steam setting, I answered, “Oh, that’s the steam setting. Just put it in the middle—two clouds. Two clouds will do it. Okay? Did you do that? You should be okay now. Just breathe. You can do this.”
I heard David sigh with relief. “Okay. I think I’ll be okay. I’ll call you back if I need anything else.”
Which he did, two more times, but he got through it.
He’s been at his new job for a week now and David seems to be adjusting well. Thank God it doesn’t require any ironing.
What kind of growing up growing pains are your kids going through? Click “comments” below and share!