Arrested Development

According to Dr. Maria Montessori, one of the ways children can discover and develop their independence is through regular participation in household chores. I’ve just seen a guide for age appropriate tasks, like putting toys in a box (age 2/3) raking leaves and emptying the dishwasher (age 6/7) all the way to shopping for groceries from a list and baking bread/cakes by age 12.


Sadly, conventionally schooled, I missed out on this groundbreaking alternative education; I am now about a hundred-and-four but still quite hopelessly trying to master the art of actually following a relatively simple and straightforward shopping list…


Now I totally agree that getting your kids to help around the house is for their own good. But apparently, this is not so that you can flick on the Nespresso machine, recline on your Le Corbusier chaise longue, and flick through Elle Decoration, while giving the housekeeper an hour off. Or would it be closer to say, flick on the kettle, sigh over a cup of instant coffee (you ran out of capsules last week, and there’s no sign of George Clooney), slump on the sofa, and read the You Magazine you didn’t get time for last Sunday, while taking a guilty half hour off all the stuff you know you need to do, cheerfully reminding yourself that self-employed shouldn’t mean fitting your advertising campaign around the spin cycles of a flipping incessant washing machine. Either. Neither. Both. Whatever.


Help around the house, particularly the picking up of toys, is of great benefit to my boys, especially the important development of their delicate eardrums. Are you aware of the strange nocturnal sound emitted by a sleepy and barefooted grown up, who has gone to check their little angel at night, and trodden on a small but strategically placed collection of Lego Mini Figures?

The problem with children and chores is that being a teeny weeny tiny bit of a control freak, I am really quite specific about how things are done. Call me fussy…


I’ve concluded that most of the time, things are better done yourself. Apart from cups of tea. That’s always best when someone makes it for you. And that includes a Hobnob, preferably chocolate.


The boys promised to clean the litter tray of our two little Siamese members of the family, but two easily distracted boys and cat poo? No thank you.


The eldest is a whizz with the hoover. However, he clearly watched the cyclone vortex doo dah commercial far too often and believes our appliance has the suction powers of a UFO about to beam up Captain Kirk. Witness one mildly frustrated mother extracting almost half a tree from the not quite so flexible hose (yep, I kid you not).


And your obliging kid running the dishwasher with three plates is not all that helpful* Sorry to be a killjoy. I do sincerely hope I won’t be the cause of arrested development. I am quite sure the pediatric psychologists reading this are currently rolling their eyes and looking at their calendars for availability in the latter part of 2020.


The truth is, I loathe having to spend hours over household chores as much as my boys. I’d rather leave pots to soak in the sink than stand and scrub (far less labour intensive) and in shame, I can sort of see that Quentin Crisp may not have been joking when he pointed out that after the third year, the dust doesn’t get any worse. Besides, we’d rather go out for a walk, watch a movie or play Monopoly.


So, in conclusion, there is only one thing for it.


I need a wife.**


A Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded to the person who finally invents a dishwasher with an integral waste disposer. Think of all the arguments they will save about scraping and or rinsing before stacking…

**Bugger off. As a woman and a mother, I’m being ironic. Get over it.

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