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.