“What the fuck? You’ve had that sweater for months! Why haven’t you gotten it to the dry cleaners yet? What the fuck?” Daughter 1.0 slams her bedroom door, knocking one of the small mosaic tiles from the wall and it loses another stone. There once were three tiles lined up on the wall next to Daughter 1.0’s bedroom, now there are only two; the third was a casualty of the frequent door slamming. Daughter 1.0 brought those tiles back with her from Jordan two years ago. She went to Jordan on a cultural exchange trip with her school. They visited Petra. I have never been to Petra, or Jordan. I go to the dry cleaners.
For the record, I hadn’t had the sweater for months, maybe for a couple of weeks. The timing of her giving me the sweater for the dry cleaners was poor. I had just dropped off a load. And then there hadn’t been very much else, so I hadn’t gotten around to making a trip. That was not an acceptable excuse for Daughter 1.0. She wanted to wear the sweater, like now. I had clearly failed her.
My tone here is tongue in cheek, but actually, I think this episode may point out where I have failed her, and her sister. I didn’t fail her because I didn’t get her sweater to the dry cleaners (she has a drawer full of sweaters, many of which are not dry clean only). I failed her because she felt entitled to have her sweater back from the dry cleaners, cleaned and ready to wear, when she wanted it, with no effort on her part. She is spoiled in this way and so I have failed.
If I’m asked what my biggest regret is when it comes to the way I’ve raised my children, it may just be that I never made them do any chores, at least not with any consistency. Parents of newborns, if you’re reading this, start planning a chore chart now, and FOLLOW THROUGH! Everyone will be happier for it, especially your children. Oh, they’ll grumble and complain, but they will be better adjusted people, equipped to handle all kinds of curves life throws their way. Trust me. They say (them that says) people who make their bed every morning are more productive.
My kids are messy. They leave dishes on the table and in their bedrooms, they do not make beds or hang up their bath towels, it’s so much easier to drop clothes on the floor where they happen to take them off then into the hamper, they do not load or unload the dishwasher, they do not do laundry. Oh sure, they will occasionally do all of these things, as a gift to me. Why, you may ask, is it a gift to me that my Daughters wash their own underwear? Good question.
And my Husband is not entirely off the hook when it comes to this. Just the other morning, when he had gotten home so late from work the night before that I was already in bed, he pointed out that he had cleaned the kitchen after he ate. Then he suggested that he deserved high praise for this act, like maybe a ticker tape parade. He cleaned up after himself, lets have a party!
I sound like I’m complaining (I guess I am). My kids are great, they really are (swearing and door slamming aside). They work hard in school and get good grades and they are polite to adults (if not always to their parents). They are good kids. Just think how much better they would be if only I had enforced the chore chart when they were little.
My friend (a woman who holds a full time job outside of the home) told me the story of how she stopped doing her son’s laundry. It was the day he complained about not having a particular item of clothing to wear and she said that if it was that important he should have done the laundry himself. His response was “Isn’t that your job?” to which she replied “Not any more.” Good response. He’s now in college and presumably continuing to do all of his own laundry. So do I think it’s my job to do all the chores (ok, most, my Husband does do some) because I don’t have a paying job? Could be.
I guess I’ve found over the years that it’s easier to pick up after my Daughters than to harass and harangue them into picking up after themselves. It’s this way with so much of parenting, we choose the path of least resistance, give in because we are too tired to fight. But this doing chores thing, I think that may have been a battle worth fighting. And maybe it’s not too late. Look out kids, the laundry fairy just may be going out on strike. You’ll thank me for it later.
Puttanesca Pasta with Ventresca Tuna
Oil packed Ventresca Tuna
4 garlic cloves peeled and thinly sliced
Large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
4 Anchovy fillets
One can whole tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 chopped Kalamata olives
Chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley
1 pound pasta – spaghetti or bucatini work well, as does penne rigate (with the ridges)
Pour the oil that the tuna is pack in into a large sauté pan, adding additional olive oil to make about 3 tablespoons. Place the pan over medium heat and add the garlic. When the garlic starts to sizzle, stir in the pepper flakes and anchovy fillets. Be careful, the pan with sputter. Stir the anchovies until they are dissolved, then add the canned tomatoes. Lower the heat and cook the sauce, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to help break up the tomatoes, for about 10 minutes. Stir in the capers and olives and cook for another couple of minutes. Turn off the heat.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add a handful (really) of salt to the water. Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than package instructions. Before draining the pasta, scoop out about a cup of the pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta.
Turn the heat back on to medium under the tomato sauce. Add the pasta and about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water. Stir together for about a minute to finish cooking the pasta, adding more pasta water if it gets too dry. Once the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat and carefully stir in the Ventresca tuna. You do not want to break it apart too much. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.