I was in the home of a friend the other day who was cooking a meal, and she turned to her 11-year old son and said:
“Why don’t you come into the kitchen and learn how to cook this delicious recipe with us?”
He looked at her like she was crazy and said:
“But Mom. I’m a BOY.”
…and walked away. She shrugged it off but I was speechless. Completely dumbfounded.
I kept my mouth shut because I was in her home, but also because she’s a devout Muslim who has a very traditional family, and whose husband as a role model for his son, does not clean, cook or do anything in the home. She also doesn’t work. Her whole life is her home and her family.
However what he said about being a boy (and using it as an excuse) made it seem like it was a fact of life that he was male and didn’t do “female things”, which included cooking, cleaning or watching children (I am assuming the last part as he is only 11).
That’s when I realized 2 things:
1. I am very lucky to have a partner who isn’t like that
My partner is 100% not like this at all. He is the #1 person who manages the household, and by that I mean:
- Grocery shopping
- Meal Planning
- Making sure we have supplies and don’t run out (toilet paper, soap, etc)
- Planning (all sorts of planning, even vacation planning, or planning to move)
- Moving (packing all the kitchen equipment, and unpacking as well)
- Laundry (only his, because he has very specific ways he wants his laundry done, so he does it himself)
That’s just to name a bit of what he does. He also does light cleaning but hates it, so I tend to take over if I can in this area, including loading and unloading the dishwasher, cleaning in-depth (he even yells at me sometimes when stuff isn’t super clean up to his standards).
(His face looks like Joan Harris sometimes. LOL)
He also knows how to sew (his mother taught him when he was young), repair things, and basically be self-sufficient.
The ONE area where I take more of the control is finances, but only tracking it in detail because I’m a freak.
I pay for everything, track it in detail (he hates tracking stuff in detail), then invoice him for his half, which he then enters into his own personal tracking sheet.
With a baby to take care of now, I’m the #1 caregiver for Baby Bun, which he understands (now) is not an easy job, particularly since I don’t get a full night’s rest any more (more than 4 hours).
2. I am never going to let my children learn such gender-specific behaviours
Men and women both have to learn to be self-sufficient in all areas of their life.
I don’t really care if afterwards people choose traditional roles, like wanting to stay at home as a stay at home mom, or that guys don’t cook because they don’t like it.
Just as long as they know how to survive on their own, is good enough for me.
Otherwise, how can you survive as a decent citizen?
Is it really fair to expect someone else to do all the work for you, or to have to find someone to rope into doing the things you never learned how to do?
What will my friend’s son do for cooking or laundry? Eat out all the time? Bring his laundry back home every week for his Mommy to do?
These are all rather shameful things in my opinion; shameful that a person would not know how to do basic tasks to survive and be self-sufficient without relying on anyone else, or paying someone else to do it.
I think everyone should be forced to learn basic life skills in school, in Home Economics for instance.