Raising four boys, I knew I had a big job ahead of me in regards to house training. But when Master 12 tried to open a can of tuna with a fork, even though it was not of the ring pull variety, it became apparent that the job in question may be bigger than I first imagined.
People often ask me what it’s like to be the only female in a house of five males. My answer is that I don’t know life any other way. I grew up with three older brothers and shared a house, in my uni days, with three boys. I now have four sons. It’s my comfort zone.
However, it is my job to house train my boys so that when they leave the nest, they are able to look after themselves and grow to be a fully functioning, efficient and effective young man who is capable of cooking more than spaghetti on toast, or living on take away.
Even though it’s gonna be a humungous job, I am committed to the cause and am tackling it one bit at a time, starting with the basics…
Hanging out washing …
Masters 12 and 10 have the Saturday job of hanging out the washing, something I thought was self explanatory, until I saw their work…
We had a soldier’s five on how to hang washing so as to give maximum surface area exposure, which results in faster and more even drying. I am proud to say that they now use a minimum of two pegs on all items other than socks and jocks. It made my mummy heart happy to see such improvement.
However, upon my next trip to the washing line, I was puzzled as to why nearly every peg was scattered on the ground instead of hanging on the line. It wasn’t until I remembered asking the boys to bring the washing inside the previous day that their method of clothes retrieval occurred to me.
This was my conversation with Master 12.
Me: When you brought the washing in yesterday, did you take the clothes off the line by pulling them by the bottom, ripping them off the line and letting the peg fly into the air and land on the ground?
M12: wide eyed stare.
Me: Okay, I take it, from your deer in the headlights reaction, that my assumption was correct?
M12: wide eyed stare, tinged with a flicker of confusion – a kind of ‘how else are you supposed to get clothes off the line’ expression.
We all moved out to the line and had another soldier’s five on clothes extraction and the replacement of pegs either onto the line or into the designated peg basket. I am thrilled to say that they are now fully versed in the art of both hanging out the washing, and bringing it back in.
The importance of a balanced diet…
My boys hate vegetables. If it’s not pasta or meat, they aren’t interested. There have been many a tear shed at the dining table over my placement of a corn cob or a few peas on their plate. Upon suggestion from a friend, not to make a fuss out of the necessity to eat vegetables by quantifying them, I now simply put the salad in front of them and say ‘everyone must have SOME salad’.
Of course, that means that the word SOME is a moot point.
Having had three older brothers, I am well aware of many men’s aversion to the more fibrous elements of the daily diet. My brother’s response to my mum asking him to try mushrooms was:
‘If I wanted to eat fungus, I’d lick the bathroom wall.’
You can’t fight logic like that. However, when he fell head over heels– with a vegetarian (oh, how we loved the irony)- he soon discovered the delights of vegetables in order to impress his new love, even eating raw cauliflower in the pursuit of passion.
Another brother, also wanting to please his lady friend, ate the garnish on his plate as he wasn’t sure if it was for decoration or part of the meal. It consisted of lettuce, alfalfa sprouts and tomatoes – his sworn enemy. But he who ate the garnish, also got the girl, so his sacrifice paid off.
So, based on the historical events of their uncles’ lives, and knowledge that my own hubby’s meal time consisted of two kilos of BBQ’d chicken wings, I know that my boys will one day eat vegetables. It may be in order to impress a girl, or in the hope of having sex with her, but they will eat their vegetables eventually.
Being surrounded by boys my entire life has enabled me to understand the way they think, why they act the way they do and, like David Attenborough, how to live with a male of the species in his own environment. As a mum, it’s my job, and my honour, to teach them how to fend for themselves . One day they will fly away from my nest and I need to pass on the skills of domestic life on to them the same way my mum did for me. While we’re not quite up to tackling a béchamel sauce yet, they are making wonderful progress on the domestic grounds…one little step at a time and I couldn’t be prouder!