We’ve grown to know each other pretty well, and you can probably ascertain certain things about me. For example, you’ve probably surmised by now that I’m not a top-notch house cleaner. That would be correct.
Other things keep rising to the top of my “to-do” list, such as trolling Facebook, charging stuff on Amazon and plucking my mustache.
However, even I was taken aback yesterday when I noticed tinsel on my staircase. CHRISTMAS WAS THREE MONTHS AGO! Ashamed yet not willing to get the job done myself — a new show about polygamy was about to begin! — I asked my son to dust and eradicate the offensive silver strands.
He pondered, aloud: “Ummm … isn’t dusting, like, women’s work?”
I stared. A long time. Then I smacked him in the back of the head with a rolled-up Men’s Health magazine. (Ironic, that magazine).
“Are you kidding me?!!” I squealed. “Where in God’s name did you get the idea there are specific chores for men and women?”
He eyed me skeptically.
“If I say anything else, will you promise not to write about it in your column this week?”
I reassured him. “Of course!”
Obviously, blatantly lying to one’s own child is also women’s work, and it’s a task at which I am enormously adept.
He went on to explain that there were just certain things boys shouldn’t do. Like dusting. But he has no problem shoveling or raking. Dusting, apparently, is just not masculine enough.
I asked him about cooking. He decided cooking is OK, but it was directly dependent upon what kind of food one was preparing.
So making pudding and quiche is for women, but scrapple and bacon are for men?
Where did I go wrong?
I dismissed him but not before I commanded him to dust the staircase, the garage, the toilet seat, the dogs and the mailbox.
I’ll fix him, the little chauvinist.
The whole episode disturbed me.
Where in the name of Endust did he get this men-vs.-women scenario?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized – probably from me.
In the early days, before I became smart and concluded that I don’t care how dirty my staircase is, I used to Swiffer so often my children thought the handle was an extension of my digits and had a pulse. I dusted until the wee hours. I dusted until all the bunnies were dead. I dusted in my sleep.
I cleaned until I decided … a dirty staircase won’t stop my world from spinning.
Then I stopped.
My husband, conversely, only performs the same two tasks historically preassigned to men: taking out the trash and mowing our patch of grass.
That is it. Stick a fork in him — he’s d-o-n-e.
This child needs to understand that all chores are created equal. I don’t want him to become the kind of man who expects his significant other to do the housecleaning while he tackles the manly chores of making coffee, reading the paper and watching ESPN.
I want him to realize that a real man does, in fact, make the quiche and eat it, dusts, and even, on occasion, cleans the toilet that only he, himself, has sprinkled.
Then, and only then, will he be allowed to eat his scrapple.