Household Tips #4

Child labour.

It’s important as a parent to teach your children self-sufficiency. No one wants them returning, after they’ve flown the coop, with a pile of washing and a petted lip. No one wants to see them starving or malnourished for want of being able to rustle something wholesome up in the kitchen.

It’s vitally important to get the balance just right. The schools here actually issue the wee sods with ChildLine’s number. It hangs on the kitchen noticeboard. ParentLine’s number is pinned beside it, is slightly bigger in red type and is not a random phone number.

Neither number has ever been used yet.

As I said, vitally important to get the balance just right.

With that in mind, honestly, no other reason, I’ve attempted to ensure that my brood can cope for themselves.

My own parents did this for me so it was not quite such a shock to my system when I learned that toilets were not self-cleaning. That flushing in and of itself, while effective for elimination, did not clean the toilet. Who knew?

By the time I was in my teens I could pretty much make a meal for eight while reading a book. Burnt a few, right enough, if I was at a really exciting chapter. Tip:- place burnt side face down on plate and don’t cry or take a strop when your brother calls you on it. Just tell him to cook the feckin’ sausages himself next time.

I was definitely more of a Mary to my sister’s Martha but she never learned how to hang wallpaper and cut into corners first with your paintbrush before tackling the walls. I like all that shit. That and learning to use a jig-saw and various other power tools that were way more fun than a washing machine.

I don’t think my parents used me at all. I think they let me have a go. Some bits I let go. Like ironing. It was shite. Still is. Hate that odd-shaped appliance although it’s not unlike a sander and I’m quite fond of that.

Now, none of my kids have shown any penchant for power tools and they’re not too keen on household ones either. But I feel obliged to force them to at least become acquainted with which end’s up.

This is particularly important when using pots. How humiliated would they be if, when having their own guests round to their immaculate homes, they didn’t know their erse from their elbow or a saucepan from a frying pan?

I was horrified, as were each of my kids, when, in their first year of high school, they were taught how to make Empire biscuits during obligatory Home Economics. Quite impressive, till you learn that they opened a packet of digestive biscuits, spread some jam on one, iced its partner and topped it with a jelly tot.

Meanwhile my crew were all, ‘Can I make spag bol, Miss?’

No, that’s a lie. Most of them were. One, in particular, whose sole purpose in the kitchen, despite my best efforts, was to find out where I was currently planking the goodies, (never hide chocolate biscuits in the tumble dryer), came late to the cooking experience when he started a high protein stint that involved scrambling only the whites of eggs. Flinging six egg yolks at a time in the bin I discovered. Smacked him one on the arse for that. ChildLine was not involved.

Balance, you see. ParentLine was keen to learn about children’s worst excesses at that time. He was very gullible. Once argued with his teacher that the singular of sheep was shoop. Had to be right. His dad had told him. Goose, geese. Shoop, sheep. Oh, how we laughed! He did too. Years later right enough.

So, child labour. Raising weans. Got to get it just right. At least until the schools stop issuing ChildLine’s number. Or ParentLine is invented.


Some child labour, unlike this image, is actually education.


24 thoughts on “Household Tips #4”

    1. Good point, Derrick. I’m reassured though by the fact that my older kids invariably spill all beans eventually while gleefully telling me what I didn’t know then and don’t always want to know now. But you never know. My name might be mud with Esther. :/

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  1. Lol…..oh Mary dear, this is Martha here…….wallpapering, painting, tools……really – no thank you very much…….ironing, yes….dusting, give me the Mr Sheen……and referring to an earlier post – raspberries…..geez some! xxx

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  2. Great piece!!! So many kids grow up unable to cope with the smallest detail of daily life. You have a very healthy and well balanced parenting

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  3. I was of a large family momus and the mechanics were very different. Hunted out of the kitchen while cooking was happening and dragged in by the ear to wash up. I grew to loath anything registering on the kitchen scale of things.
    Then I got married, and then began to learn to ‘share’ the kitchen bits, which was fair enough we were both working. So eventually I can cook an egg without burning the house down, AND, under sufferance, I forced myself to learn from scratch the art of making Tiramisu.
    I went out with an Italian lass for a couple of years….ok, 8….and she gave me some one day and once tasted I was lost, I just had to know that art, you know, in an emergency in case we were not together and the urge to have some of that beautiful delicacy overtook my senses 🙂
    And it was a home made secret recipe handed down from generations, (I better be careful here, I’ll have a Godfather at the door with a big gun to remove the blemish that told the world their secret 🙂 ), of Italian families of the ‘old world’ 😀
    But as for the machines of the kitchen, you know, those things that spin like crazy and DO NOT WORK for mixing paint…well, unless you want some crazy designs up the walls…and yourself.
    At least the toaster is foolproof…I think…I’ve only burnt them out when drying socks over them, so that’s pretty good….isn’t it? 😀

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  4. Ah, the joys of parenting! Great advice, but, at 21, our son is of the ‘I know you’ve shown me, and yes I can do it, but you’re SO much better at it’ clan. Hmm. Lead by example? Maybe not! I sometimes think it would be better to leave them to their own devices! (Joking!). Thanks for this! X

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    1. Schaw a shoop being sheared onshe. Schorry, Sean Connery moment there. I like knitting too! I’ve discovered over the years that I’m fine with short/ish implements. No use whatsoever with a golf club or a pool cue. My theory is the shortish ones feel like an extension of my hands while the longer ones feel like jelly in them. 🙂

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      1. My father in law taught his children a made up language swearing it was how to count in Chinese! He only told them it was rubbish once they were in their late teens – they still rib each other about it!!

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      2. I’m laughing but don’t know why as I was (possibly still am!) gullible to the extent that, if someone says something with a straight face, I tend to believe it. I’d probably have counted right along with them! 😀

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