Monday, July 4, 2011

The Difference Between Boys and Girls, Part I

I'm dashing off to my exercise class, leaving the almost 16-year-old watching the almost 12-year-old. They know the rules: on this particular day of the week they have to do three chores each. These chores are pretty well established and, considering how sloppily the kids do them, easily done. Stainless steel, toilets, vacuuming, mirrors, countertops.

As I run out I say to Daughter, "No TV or computer until you do your three chores!" There's no reply, which, in retrospect, seems ominous. But I do hear a final click of her hands on the keyboard.

I finish my exercise class, get in my car and call home. Daughter answers. I ask, "What chores did you do?" I'm genuinely curious. I'm optimistic, upbeat, expecting a list in response. Maybe a list of the easiest stuff she could do, but a list nonetheless.

She says, "I didn't watch TV or go on the computer."


"So I didn't do any chores."

I take a deep breath, not wanting to scare anyone in the parking lot I'm in by yelling loudly. I ask her to put Bar Mitzvahzilla on the phone. Although by now I'm expecting the worst, I ask him the same question, "What chores did you do?"

"Stainless steel, toilets and vacuuming. Can I go? I'm watching TV?"

Ah, the differnce between boys and girls. Part I.

Ever had this sneaky over-interpretation of your instructions happen with your kids? Ever wish you had just a little more time to lay out exactly what you want them to do ahead of time, with all the possible caveats so that there are no loopholes?

Linda Pressman,
Author of Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors and Skokie, now on Amazon, Barnes and, Books-a-Million, Powells, at Changing Hands, on Kindle and in libraries.


  1. There will ALWAYS be a loophole.

  2. My daughter is the Exact. Same. Way. And she's 4. I think I'm in big trouble.

  3. Mine is 18. Male. Sweet face. Stubble.

    Still living this. Have tried reason, guilt, nagging, note-leaving, coercing, carrot, (metaphorical) stick...

    It's 50-50.

    Something in the water?

  4. After my daughter was born this winter, someone told me to watch out because, and I quote, "Boys play and girls make rules." I think this anecdote about your kids gives some weight to my friend's suggestion.

    Like Stacia, I think I'm in trouble.

  5. I have given up. Is that bad?

  6. You know this scares me a little bit, right? ;-)

  7. I just got back from Taos Summer Writers' Conference where I workshopped a memoir about being a hovering mom. Someone yelled at me for cutting up my 12-year-old, at the time, daughter's apple. "LET HER CUT HER OWN APPLE." I've grappled, still do and they are 22, 19 and 8, with wanting my kids need me and letting go and having cut their own damn apples. Your daughter is smart and quite literal. Ha!

  8. So far my two boys still want to listen to me to do the chores that I ask them to do. Though those are still some simple chores like clean up the toys, laundry.
    But do not know what will happen later... Hope my sons will still do their chores well