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You Can't Leave For College Until You Put Your Dishes In The Sink

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We have a family tradition of leaving notes for one another on the kitchen table in the morning. Reminders and reprimands range from butter yellow to neon lime Post-its (color dependant on the immediacy of the message), to quick epistles on notepads anchored by a small vase of freshly picked flowers or a rock from a beach walk. Somehow, a can of hornet spray has recently found itself subbing in as a paperweight, too.

This summer, our daughter, a rising senior in college, had an internship and lived at home. We were thrilled to the max to have her back in the nest. To keep her grounded with duties and responsibilities on the homestead, the kitchen table was a good sounding board.

Let's turn back the clock to June (something I yearn to do every August) and take a peek into our world:

June 15
"Good morning, darling!! Hope you slept well. Welcome home! Xoxo, Mom"

June 18
"Here are some zinnia seeds. Can you plant them in the back and give them some water? Thx, Mom"

June 25
"Good morning! (Hope it isn't afternoon by the time you read this!!) Xoxo, Mom"

June 30
"Hi. Gentle reminder: please clean up your breakfast dishes and do not leave them on your desk. See you at 6. Have a great day! Luv, Mom"

June flowed into July. Flowers bloomed. Mosquitoes multiplied. Dishes piled up.

July 1
"Hi. Please remember to clean up your breakfast and lunch dishes. And what about the blender in the sink? Your note said: "This is soaking. Will wash it tomorrow.' Wasn't 'tomorrow' yesterday?? xMom"

July 3
"We're going to the McInerney's for a 4th of July party tomorrow. You are certainly welcome to join. xo M."

July 8
"Zinnias. H2O. And take your pile of shoes by the front door up to your room for CRYING OUT LOUD!"

July 10
"Thanks for doing the laundry yesterday. That's a big help! Luv, Mom"

July 17
"Any chance you can get around to folding that laundry you did last week? That would be a big help. Luv, Mom."

July 20
"Thanks for making dinner for me and Dad last night. Xo"

July 21
"Hi. If you're going to stay at a friend's house, could you let us know? Not that there's a curfew... it would just be nice to know where you are."

July 23
"Want to go to the movies tonight? Call me later. Xoxo, Mom"

July 25
"Have you seen my sunglasses? I think I have yours by mistake. Love, Mom."

July 26
"Found my sunglasses at the bottom of your boat bag. You can stop looking now. Xoxo, Mom."

August 1
"Reminder: Dishes go in the sink. Rinse. Put in dishwasher. If confused, go back to step #1."

August 7
"Hope your meeting in the city goes well. Be sure the cat is in the house before you leave. Thx/xox/Mom"

August 3
"Did you know that wet clothes left in the washing machine in the summer turn
mildew-y? Open the washer. Take a sniff. It's gross. You need to rewash that load."

August 4
"Don't forget to make a dentist appointment before going back to school. xMom"

August 5
"Do you need boxes for packing? Also... since I'll be going to the market, want me to pick up anything else?"

August 8
"I'll help you pack later. Kisses/hugs/kisses/hugs/and more kisses, Mom"

August 9
"The zinnias look half-dead. Don't forget to water. xMom"

August 11
"Car keys, anyone???"

August 12
"Your room looks amazing cleaned up. Are you feeling okay? (Just kidding! LOL xoxmom)"

August 14
"Don't mix reds and whites. My nice white towels are now pink. Ahhhhemmm. xMom"

August 17
"Good morning, darling! I can't believe you're going to school tomorrow. Are you sure you want to go to Orientation Week? Don't you know where everything is after three years on campus? Will it really be more fun than staying home with Dad and me? xMom"

And with a hug, a wave and a whisper of "I love you," summer 2012 was over. We loaded up the station wagon and she headed back to college. Frequent empty gas tanks in the car, piles of unfolded laundry and stacks of dirty dishes aside, on a scale of 1-10, having our daughter home this summer was #11. To put it in her words, it was totally fly (at least for me).