Saturday, January 31, 2009

1 year and four month old CinderAva gets to work

I gave Ava a feather duster to play with. 

Here she is dusting and recycling. Next up? A little game called "Put all these bowls in the lower rack of the dishwasher." 

Actually, she ended up helping me load the washing machine too. 

Just imagine the possibilities when she can manage the broom and dustpan on her own! I'm kidding (sort of), but I'm really glad she's eager to "help" and figure out how things work, including the running of a household. And I mean that in a very gender-neutral way. Every kid, male or female, should know how to manage household tasks like dishes, laundry, and cleaning the bathroom (hello, most guys), , whether they live alone or not.

J. and I both recall being taught at a very early age how to wash clothes, iron, and do general household cleanup that would be necessary when we got out into the world on our own. J. says his mom taught him to iron and do laundry at age 7, and to this day I am grateful she did because I've never had to iron his clothes, do his laundry, or as I've heard some friends relate, ever found him sitting on the edge of the bed in his underwear, unable to get dressed because a particular item of clothing he'd planned to wear was in the dirty clothes basket or wrinkled. Wow, talk about man child.

I remember meeting and feeling sorry for people at college who showed up with impressive SAT scores but no understanding of how to wash their own clothes or pick up after themselves, leaving a mess in their wake, both in the dining hall and in the dorms. First off, how rude for those around them. These were often the one instigating food fights or leaving tables filled with overflowing, food and napkin-strewn tray messes for the dining staff to clear. Anyone who's ever cleaned up after themselves or others is less likely to create that kind of work for others. Needless to say, when it came time to choose roommates for the coming year, the mess makers often found themselves matched up with similarly slovenly classmates - the only ones willing to put up the mess.

If we are blessed with a son some day, I will play these same "cleaning" games with him because as I was reminded once, I'm not just raising a child, I'm raising someone's future spouse or partner and they should be able and willing to share the household task load, whether they work in the home or out of it. After all, those clothes and dishes aren't going to wash themselves. To read about the resentment that can pile up when dads don't share the load, read author Martha Brockenbrough's piece Mad At Dad on or the NYTimes summary article here. Now I'm off to find a tiny set of rubber dish gloves.

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