Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Time warp? Reality? Housework.

A quick aside... Yesterday, on the train on the way home, we were surrounded by commuters. Being on commuter trains with the kids is far easier than it used to be now the kids are older, more sensitive to the atmosphere, and so sit and read or draw in silence. Happy, chattering kids tend to make commuters look murderous at the end of a long day!

Somewhere in mid Sussex the man opposite us made a quick call.
"Hello, I'll be in about quarter to seven. What's for dinner?"
Listens to reply.
"And for dessert?"
Listens to reply.
"Good. See you later."

The train got later and later as we kept having to wait for platforms. I was thinking about the dinner waiting for the man. Eventually he made another call.

"Yes, it's me. The train's late so I won't be in for another half hour or so."
Listens to reply.
"Don't start without me."
End of call.

All sorts of rude words were floating in my head at this point! What a damn cheek! He clearly assumed his partner would do the following:
Make him a meal.
Make him a dessert. (!)
Wait until he was home before eating.

Now, maybe all this is part of some negotiated agreement, but the general tone of the calls was such that I'd have been inclined to lob the dinner at him out of an upstairs window - no matter what the agreed division of labour in the home! The guy could have been talking to a male partner, or his mum, or his housemate, but something just made me sure he was talking to his wife. How many grown men are there these days who still expect this kind of 'service'? I knew lots back in the seventies, but I kind of hoped that this attitude was dying out.

If I'm out at work then I do expect D to feed the kids. But if I'm home late from work (as I am two or three nights a week) I might find food waiting for me and I might not. It depends on what the others have had, and how busy D is, and if we've got any spuds in. I don't expect food any more than I expect to have my clothes washed, carpets hoovered, or toilet cleaned. That's because I'm an adult. What the hell is going through someone's mind when they think they can just get their needs met by another person like that? What seems to happen is that they stop appreciating what the other person does for them - and just expect it.

We're planning a change in laundry round here. Plan is for the kids to each have a basket for their own dirty clothes, do their own wash each week, and then hang stuff on an airer in their own rooms to dry. Things can then go straight in their own drawers - unless they want to learn how to iron! Who knows if it will work, but we thought we'd give it a try. After all, I don't want either of my kids turning into Mr Commuter! Lol!


ruth said...

If it was me I would say "Your dinner is in the dog" when he rolled in expecting it put in front of him. However I am a bit of a shrew :)

Gill said...

LOL! Also, laughing at the obsession with food! very childlike, isn't it?

I haven't cooked a daily meal for people here for years. I think they'd be quite miffed if I did now - they prefer to get their own. Washing is a similar arrangement. If they can't be bothered to gathering dirty clothes and get them to the washing machine, they don't get clean clothes!

The above doesn't really apply to younger children though. I do mother them when they need it, obviously. But as the older ones grew up I found they preferred to take care of their own stuff.

Lucy said...

I think most partners are the partners they are because of the partners they are with. My dh would very easily walk all over me if I allowed him to.

My Dad and brother say of my Mum that she might moan about doing stuff but actually she needs to be needed, I think this is rubbish, she is just useless at saying 'no'. Looking at it from another angle, teaching your children self-respect is probably just as important as teaching them laundry.

Allie said...

Hi all,

Lucy says:
"Looking at it from another angle, teaching your children self-respect is probably just as important as teaching them laundry."

Oh, certainly. Far more important, in fact. I think you're right about the role of the partner who does the laundry/cooking/whatever. I hope my kids will know that, just as they can't expect their partner to be their servant, so they are no-one's servant either.

I know this sounds a bit puritanical - and I'm perfectly capable of being a lazy a**e and asking D to make me a cup of tea. But, on the whole, I think it is a mistake if one person does all the housework - regardless of other work commitments. I think it just sets up expectations that are unhealthy for both people.

Gill, that's very encouraging what you say about your teens. Sounds like a good set-up.