Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Boys to Men

I read a friend's blog this morning who was waxing philosophic on the topic of things that all men should be able to do in order to proudly carry their Universal Man Card. It got me to thinking. What are the skills that I need to be teaching my boys? While the blog post listed a lot of "manly chores" like changing a tire and pounding nails, it spurred me to action thinking about the "other" things that boys need to be able to do - - taught to them by the women who form them. The advent of summer vacation already had me noodling about this. Of course, the "summer vacation" event had more to do with "what-the-heck-do-i-do-to-keep-the-boys-busy", but I'm liking that I can now characterize some of these things as "life learning events". Yes! I can easily justify turning my kids in to little slaves in order to prepare them properly for adulthood. In the words of Edna Mode of the Incredibles, "Life favors the prepared, darling!"

The boys already have a litany of "standards" that they have always been asked to do. Making beds in the morning, putting away their clean clothes, feeding the dog, setting the table, clearing the table and washing the dishes (although the last has been somewhat loosely defined since my idea of washing the dishes actually requires that all food particles be removed from said dishes to qualify as clean - we're still working on that one.) For the summer we have already added a couple more.

When they are in school, I play the role of dog walker. Otto is a bulldog which defines his need to exercise as moderate to none. Still, we need to pay attention to maintaining his lean physique. A 20 minute walk is about it. Since it is summer, this chore has transferred to the boys. I put the boys' names on the calendar, every other day from the day that school got out to when they leave for camp. Luckily, this ended up exactly even between the two of them. This was a relief, since Woe-To-ALL if things are not EQUAL and thusly UNFAIR to one or the other - - or so say my two lovers of great universal justice.

George the Younger, in his ever so easy going way, accepted this new chore as something-he-had-to-do, so there were no real issues. Henry, on the other hand didn't take to it so kindly. I got a lot of guff about him having to DO EVERYTHING and you'd have thought I had asked him to relinquish his only functioning kidney to an ailing three legged jackass. After some whining (on his part) and some yelling and threatening (on my part), the walk took place. This morning I only had to remind him twice to do it and then half-heartedly threaten a weekday grounding before the deed was done. In our house, if there is no yelling with Henry...it is a Good Day.

Next up was the addition of some general-household-chores. We began with learning to make a bed, hospital corners and all. This actually went pretty well. I wish I could say that they took to it like ducks to water, but the concept of why you would want to bounce a quarter off the sheets was lost on them. Obviously, we have not watched our share of movies entailing the requirements of boot camp. Time to get out Private Benjamin and an Officer and a Gentlemen. (and yes, I realize that these are "girl" boot-campy kind of movies, but for the life of me, I can't remember the titles of any other war movies except Tora Tora Tora and I don't think there were any boot camp scenes in that one...)

This weekend, we will be increasing the compilation by adding dusting and vacuuming to the repertoire. If I know my children, I am going to get some push-back here. I am prepared for all manner of whinging. I have witty repartee ready for all comments regarding human slavery and unfair labor practices. I am steeled for the dissension in my ranks. Henry has already been asked to empty all the garbage cans in the house over the past weekend and George had to sweep off two porches. I have visually confirmed that the blisters and physical exhaustion from these travails have abated. They are ready for more.

I think we are making progress. My ultimate goal is to ensure that they leave home with an arsenal of talents that will, at a minimum, stop any girl that they date from wondering, "Did your mother wipe your ass for you too?" This catalog of skills will include:

  • Setting a table properly (without the use of paper napkins thrown on the middle of the table)

  • Washing dishes (where indeed, there a complete absence of food shrapnel or grease residue)

  • Loading a dishwasher in a logical manner (It's like a puzzle people. Think about it, there's a way to get it all in there and if it's in there correctly and logically it's easier to get it out!)

  • Cooking something edible for dinner. Cooking one special "date" dinner just in case too.

  • Doing the laundry in color coordinated loads and folding said clean laundry so as not to render the actual washing of it an utter waste of time.

  • Making a bed the right way

  • Learning to dust and vacuum in the right order

I am sure that there are others - washing windows comes to mind - but I think that that is just the OC cleaning part of me coming out. And, there in lies the rub for my guys. I want them to know how to do all these things. It is IMPORTANT that they know all these things. But, the kicker is that they just happen to have this slightly OC person for a mom. It's going to take some fortitude to let them do it their way and then find a way for me to secretly do it again "the right way" without them knowing it. Hmmm, that seems wrong. Perhaps I am going to have to learn that sometimes it's just better that they do it their own entirely and utterly ineffective way and I am going to have to...well, I'm just going to have to "RELEASE". If George the Elder is reading this - - he is l-a-u-g-h-i-n-g. Ha Ha Snort Snort guffaw guffaw. Sure. Like that's gonna happen...

1 comment:

Chris said...

OK, first things first:
- Heartbreak Ridge
- The Dirty Dozen
- The Green Berets
- Stripes
... the list goes on. Rent them. Know them. Love them.
I'm not so sure about the vacuuming or the dishwasher. They may have to come to those things on their own but I heartily endorse cooking and laundry. Plus ironing. That'll come in handy, too.