Friday, August 25, 2006

Yes, You Can Help Stir, OK?

You know how, when you have a certain person wanting so badly to do something in the kitchen, like cooking, or cleaning (to "help you", you know), and they're really big enough to handle the basic mechanics of the project, with supervision, but you know that they will also make a terrible mess and not do things just right, and you try as hard as you can to let them have free rein with their creativity, and keep the criticism at a minimum so as not to damage their fragile egos or discourage them from trying again? Yeah? Well, I had an extremely frustrating experience with that very situation just last night. I REALLY tried to use restraint, and in many cases I WAS able to keep quiet, but the longer it went on, the thinner my patience was stretched.

Yes, Baby, it does look like it's done. You need to strain it in the colander and rinse it with water.

No--Not that colander, that one's too small; see how much food you have, and how small this is? It just won't fit; here, I'll get the big one...

Yes, the colander was just used, so it does need to be washed first. Go ahead. WAIT--WHAT--that's BATHROOM TILE cleaner! Don't wash dishes with that! Here, let me do it...

OK, that's enough rinsing, and you don't have to bang it on the bottom of the sink...and--oh, dear, you've got food in the side of the sink with no disposal. I'll have to clean that out of there...SWEETIE! Didn't you just hear me? Don't run the water in that side of the sink, you're washing food down the drain, and it will clog up! I have to clean that out of there...

Darling, do you see all this sauce and food slopped all over the stove burners? You need to be careful with the cooktop, and please clean up a mess like that as soon as possible. That will be 10 times harder to clean up tomorrow. Like...see over here? This bowl that you had ketchup in yesterday? That you just set beside the sink to congeal? That's going to have to be soaked and scraped now, whereas yesterday it could have just been rinsed out. Clean as you go, just easier, that's all...

Do you see that smoke, hon? That's from cooking everything on "high." It not only doesn't cook well, but it fills the house with smoke and scorches food to the bottom of the pan. I moved it to the other burner for you...

OK, here's another example of leaving things to clean "later;" see where this cough medicine has dripped down the front of the cabinets? Now the stain will have to be cleaned, but if you'd wiped it with a paper towel when it happened, it'd be allllll gone!

Sweetheart, does trash belong stacked in the sink? Who do you think is going to have to pick that wet, soggy, gross mess out of there when it's time to do the dishes?

What's in the middle of this stack, a half-full bowl of salad? And, again, on the NON-disposal side of the sink? Honey, this is really getting frustrating. It just makes SO much more work for ME when you do things like this!

Is this stain here from where you put pizza directly on the counter last night? I--I can't--I just have to--you have to GET OUT OF HERE, NOW. Just go, and let me clean this up. MOMMY. IS. TIRED.

Yeah, I got a little harsh, I admit it. But seriously, what do you DO in these situations? I mean, you want to teach them the RIGHT way to do things, but you don't want to crush their spirits and discourage them from any further attempts at domesticity. But at the same time, if they're ultimately creating three TIMES the work for you in the long run, and you're exhausted as it is, can you really afford their "help?"

Honestly, I'm looking for advice. What IS the best way to nourish the real "helper" in your husband, without making needless work for yourself?

What, you thought I was talking about Bella? Please. She marinated chicken for me tonight, and cleaned up afterward.


  1. I KNEW who you were talking about from the start. The putting trash in the sink just confirmed it for me. Been there, seen it. Is it possible to retrain a 39 year old? Maybe he should be assigned to less-potentially-messy chores. At least he WANTS to help.

    Gotta love him.

  2. Re-training is a bitch.

    Best of luck!

  3. I figured you were talking about Alex the whole time, but you did make me wonder there for a second when you said "Mommy is tired".

  4. I went back and read the conversation again picturing you speaking to Alex, and that is too funny! When my husband does dishes or cooks something, I go to another part of the house, because otherwise I will inevitably try to take over.

    The sink thing? Leaving food in the dishes until it turns to cement? No clue.

  5. Belinda... you raise dogs, and need help training the man? They're essentially the same creature when it comes to teaching them ;) use treats for good behavior! and lock him in the bathroom when he's misbehaved!

  6. For the disposal problem, switch to a single large sink. I'll never go back--I love mine.

    For the rest, good luck. I've always wanted to try a shock collar with a remote, but I suspect he'd just wiggle out.

  7. Yep, I knew who you were talking about from the start too. Cause I have one just like him.

  8. You didn't fool me for one second. I knew you were talking about Alex because he and The Boy have very similar habits in the kitchen.

    You need to make a white board, and break down the steps to getting the kitchen cleaned after a meal. It is the ONLY thing that works. He's going to have to learn to check off each step before moving to the next one. If he did it daily for a few weeks, he's have it down cold.

    You need me to put the fear of God in him regarding kitchen germs. I'm a bit germaphobic and I'm constantly screaming about the germs, the germs. It's easier to clean up than to listen to me about the germs.

    Oh, and get your sink without the disposal a sink rack that will remind him it's the wrong sink. Keep the stopper in the drain, too.

  9. People, he KNOWS what he's doing. It's the Bill Cosby school of housework: Pretend to be SO incompetent at it that the wife bans you from participating. I'm onto him, he knows I'm onto him, but he's tough, so we're having a bit of a Mexican standoff.

    It just hit me tonight how much easier it was to work with Bella in the kitchen. Hmmmmm.

  10. Sorry, I knew it was Alex, too. I have the clone here at my house. He's finally learned (after five years) that running water in the dirty dishes is enough not to get a chewing out, but not so much work as to be an actual imposition on his non-domestic lifestyle. Eh. It's a compromise. Thank GOD for the blessing that is the dishwasher (the machine, not me!).

  11. Hahaha! This was brilliant!

    My hubby still doesn't "get" that you have to scrape off the nuked-on-the plate chedder cheese crap before putting it in the dish washer.

    It doesn't perform miracles, Man!

  12. This was HYSTERICAL!! I've been reading your blog for awhile now, sorry for the lurking, life has been busy (don't have to tell you that!) Anyway, I very much enjoy your blog, Bella is beautiful, and I admire both you and your husband's strength in the face of adversity.


  13. About half way through I figured out that it was your husband.

    You did better than I'd have done, girlfriend.

  14. Oh darlin', I knew in the first few sentences this was going to be the hubby. The kids HELP.

    Husbands? They screw up on purpose so we never ask them to help again!


  15. Hehehe...I knew it had to be the husband. It must be because I can relate.

  16. Husbands are much harder to train than dogs or kids :)