A few months ago, I was visiting with my brother & sister-in-law. We were in the kitchen and I was loading the utensils into the dishwasher and my sister-in-law asked why I put them in the way I do. I was surprised for a moment and then realized that my brother must load the dishwasher the same way. I quickly made up an answer, knowing that I would soon fess up that it was all a ruse: Oh, with the handles pointed up it allows the water to slide down and not leave water spots on the handle.
After saying that that sounded logical, she immediately moved on to the question I knew would come next: Then why do you put the table knives with their handles down instead of up?
She caught me! And I admitted that I had absolutely no clue why I load the utensils that way, that I had totally made up that answer about the water spots, and that there was no reason I could think of . . . other than because that’s how we were taught to do it when we were growing up. And she told me that my brother does load the utensils the same way and she always wondered why that way.
We had a good laugh together and I figured I should probably ask my mom what the reason is for loading them in that particular way.
Well, it wasn’t until a couple months later that I got to see my mom again. And while she was loading the dishwasher, I noticed that she doesn’t load the utensils the same way that my brother and I do, the way she taught us to do. What?! In fact, I asked her about it and she doesn’t remember ever loading the utensils that way or teaching us to do it that way. She thinks it might have been our dad that insisted on doing it that way because it wasn’t familiar to her at all.
I really don’t know where it came from, all I know is that’s how I was taught when I was growing up and it has stuck with me.
And it made me think about all the things that I do now, as an adult who hasn’t lived with my parents in over 20 years, because of the way I was taught as a child — more things than I could ever count! And things that are much more important (but not as funny of a story to share) than the correct way to load a dishwasher.
I’m sure there were countless times my parents thought that the things they were teaching just weren’t getting through to us, just as I worry about that same thing with my children. And so the dishwasher lesson was an important one to me. Just keep teaching. Just keep setting the example. Just keep trying. And years from now, when I don’t even remember the struggle to teach a lesson, maybe the important things will stick with them.