Friday, November 25, 2016

Chore Boy

You might know the name Nikkole Paulun from the days when she was a reality star on MTV, as the leading character in some atrocity called "16 and Pregnant."  

I didn't see it; at the time I was "59 and Completely Uninterested."

But now that her days of riding around in fancy limousines and canoodling with Carson Daly or whomever from MTV are over, she finds herself being 22 years of age, with two kids, a girl and a boy, and she wrote a Facebook post about how she gets her son to do household chores, and the sky lit up with indignancy. 
Here is her side of it (I happen to agree with her, but I am perplexed about her use of ampersands (&) and then the switch to "and" 1/2 way through her screed):

I teach my son to cook & do household chores. Why? Because household work isn't just for women.
Because one day he might be a single man, living on his own, who will actually know how to do laundry & not eat take out every night.
Because one day he might want to impress a significant other with a meal cooked by his own hands.
Because one day when he has kids & a spouse, he's going to need to do his fair share around the home.
Because I live in a generation of people who complain that school didn't teach us how to cook, do laundry, tie a tie, or pay taxes.
Because teaching my son how to do these things and be a productive member of society both outside the home and inside, starts with ME.
Because it's okay to let your child be a child but still teach them lifelong lessons along the way. My son will never be too "manly" to cook or do chores.
He will be the kind of man who can come inside from changing a tire to check on his pot roast. Who can properly sort his laundry and mow the lawn too. Remember parents, a man who believes he shouldn't have to cook or do chores was once a boy who was never taught any better.
Since she wrote it, she's gotten over 140,000 likes, and 60,000 people have shared it.  It would appear that most of the moms who replied think Nikkole is on the right path here. 

"I teach mine the same thing," said one mom. "He helps with laundry, vacuums, washes windows and does yard work. They'll only be great men if we teach them how! I wish I could love this post!"

I'll interject here to say that I learned a lot about cooking from my mother, who recognized early in my life that I was going to be spending a great deal of time in home kitchens, garnishing, sauteeing, baking, frying, fricasseeing and roasting. I leave julienning to others, and I blanch at the thought of doing my own blanching. At home I also learned some basic needlework and so I can replace buttons handily. Mopping floors, I learned at the firehouse, and as for yard work, my father conducted a master class in transplanting, lawn mowing, mulching, and, of course, leaf raking.  

I never assign a gender to skills like this.  I think everyone ought to know how to do general household skills, and frankly, if I call in someone highly skilled for specialized skills in plumbing, electricity or dermatology, I don't care if the person is male or female.  

Young Mark, harvesting 'taters
Apparently, some people do, and complained to Paulun that changing tires and mowing lawns are traditionally male jobs. Well, I see plenty of women pushing lawn mowers here in Painan Acres, and I've long felt that changing a tire should be part of the driver's license test. So, no. Paulun said to that, "Yes my daughter will know how to do all of those things. She's just too young to teach still. They're raised seeing me do both since I'm a single mother."

And then there was the mother who confused "having a child learn to fend for themselves while helping around the house" with "being held in slavery," who said Nikkole should not have her kids "be your slave. Or to do the chores that you yourself don't want to do." 

Here's a funny thought, the very notion that I would have sat down with my parents and gone over my list of chores and pointed out that they made me haul out the trash cans and cut the grass and trim the hedge and stir the compost heap just because THEY didn't want to.  It would have been the only time in my father's life that he ever said, "Duh!!!!"

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