Wednesday, July 12, 2006

In the Tradition of Thoreau

So my mother taught me nothing. I'm not kidding. Well, ok, maybe she was the one who taught me how to read and brush my teeth, but all the teaching stopped by the time I was in grade school. Especially when it comes to household things, I am mostly self-taught.

My mother cooked, but never thought or never had the time to teach me how to cook. Perhaps she thought that with "women's lib" would come the freedom from the woman cooking instead of the man. Or on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, that I would somehow marry the CEO of a Fortune 500 company so that I wouldn't have to cook at all. Oh sure, I might have known how to boil water and pour the cheese mix into the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, but other than that, nada. I don't know if I just thought the kitchen was a magic place where food simply materialized in front of me or what. One night eggplant parmesan, fully cooked and steaming, would be pulled out of the oven and me none the wiser as to how it got that way.

As for housework, I was simply given a dust rag or a vacuum cleaner and told to clean. No tutorials on how not to get the Endust on the glass items, just an expectation that I would put two and two together and voila, dusted house! The same went for the bathroom that my sister and I shared. I learned by trial and error what worked on what surface, and with what implement. My sister hated and to this day still hates cleaning, and being five years older than me would have scoffed at the notion of assisting her younger sibling, so no luck there either. The most efficient means possible for completion of these tasks was never explained by my mother. Or father, for that matter.

And so, I am determined that at the very least, my son will not grow up ignorant of the arts of housekeeping and cooking. He will not think that the toilet rim automatically cleans itself, nor will he ever stand there with a toilet brush wondering why they haven't made something easier to scrub the tub with. He will do more than just the "manly" tasks of taking out the trash or yardwork. He will do dishes, he will fold laundry, and he will actually scour the inside of the sink!

I am joyous that he already loves helping me cook and bake. That way he will never have to pore over books wondering how to cut butter into batter or unfold the deep mystery of making pasta. He will never look at my balsamic chicken and think that the kitchen genie was so nice to have made it for him. And how did that kitchen genie know to go easy on the onions, anyway?

As a stay at home mom, it is very tempting for me to do everything. My self worth, for good or bad, is tied up very much in this house and how it looks. I mean, what the heck else am I doing if not some type of cleaning? If I can't manage to find the time to clean, there must be some serious problems, right? So to just swoop in and do everything all the time for my son is always a thought, because I must be a shitty SAHM who can't even pick up the 1300 lego pieces my son leaves scattered all over the living room floor on a daily basis. Since I don't work, that's the least I can do.

But really, would I be doing him a favor by not teaching him how to be self-reliant? Odds say that at some point he will be living on his own or with roommates, and I'll be damned if my son lives off soup and Easy-Mac because I didn't show him at least the basics of cooking. And if his place is a messy dump, it will simply be due to the fact he is lazy rather than not knowing how to pick up and clean after himself.

Besides, when he is older and I explain to him how chicks really dig a guy who can cook them dinner, he'll be begging me for that balsamic chicken recipe.


Blue Sky said...

Thanks for the good reading . thank you for shareing you blog. be back to read more soon.

Amber said...

A totally agree with you and the key is to start them young. My mom tried but started too late and I had no desire to learn many of her skills (she's an amazing gourmet chef).
So even though it's a pain sometimes to have my daughter help and takes 10X the amount of time, I figure a little sacrifice now will have paybacks later (aka my personal slave. :-)

Waya said...

Great idea Mom! I too planned to teach my 3 children everything! They should be able to make us a gourmet meal by the time they're 6 and clean after themselves, not too ambitious right?!