by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
November 6, 2005
MARRIAGE VOWS DON'T MENTION THIS
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- The great thing about my job is that I get to work out of my house. I don't have to go anywhere, unless it's for a meeting. And my three young children feel free to come into my office to romp and play, whenever they feel like it.
The downside is that I have to work out of my house. I don't get to go anywhere, unless it's for a meeting. And my three young children feel free to come into my office to romp and play, whenever they feel like it.
But by being around all day, I can enjoy more time with my kids. On one hand, this means I can attend their daytime events, help put them down for a nap after lunch, or knock off work early to go do something fun. On the other hand, gone are the days of bribing my two-year-old son to wait until I leave for work before he "makes" in his diaper.
Of course, working at home also means that I'm around to help out more often too. I can't use "working late" to avoid helping with dinner, or go on business trips to put off mowing the lawn for a week. So my wife and I divide the responsibilities in our house.
We each have our own duties that we look after. And we try to make sure neither of us has more work than the other.
It's not the "You have a lot to do today, why don't you let me clean that for you" approach. It's more like the "Hey, why do you only have to clean the bathroom, but I have to vacuum and dust the entire house and clean the kitchen."
The nasty looks from my wife remind me that I need to try the first approach more often.
But there are certain duties that neither of us want to claim - like changing my son's diapers - so we try to avoid these by finding a more desirable task to do instead. Like re-shingling the roof or cleaning The Fuzzy Blue Thing out of the refrigerator.
Sometimes, we'll negotiate our way to an agreement: "I'll explain the birds and bees to the girls if you change him for me." Other times, we'll just play Rock Paper Scissors for it, and the loser changes the diaper.
This is different from some of the more "traditional" families I know who still cling to gender-based roles (i.e. the husband works, the wife manages the house). Instead, they play Rock Paper Scissors Y Chromosome. The Y Chromosome beats everything.
Wife: Someone needs to make dinner. I've got Rock.
Husband: I've got Y Chromosome, I win again! I'll be in the basement watching the game.
Happily, my wife and I don't do things that way. I say happily, because the first time I suggested it, I slept on the couch for three days. So instead, we've compromised. I'll help out with more of the icky stuff and she'll let me sleep in our bed again.
Of course, we still try to get out of certain jobs, usually by conveniently going missing for an hour, or immersing ourselves in a different project that we absolutely cannot leave under any circumstances whatsoever.
"No, I can't give the kids a bath. This paint won't dry if I quit watching it."
Another favorite trick is to pretend we're still asleep when one of our kids wakes up in the middle of the night demanding our attention:
"Erik, he's calling you."
"Hey wake up. Our son is calling for you."
"Erik, I know you're awake. Your breathing changed, and you quit snoring."
"*Sigh* Then why can't you go see what he wants?
"Because he's calling for you. Besides, I'm still asleep."
At three in the morning, I can't argue with logic like this, at least not if I want to be allowed back into bed. So I go downstairs and tend to my son who's been hollering for me because he's awake and wonders what I'm doing.
Unfortunately, no family is free of distasteful tasks and tedious chores. We all have them, and no one wants to do them. So everyone develops their own ways of getting out of doing them. Great little tricks to avoid the things they absolutely hate. Clever techniques to get the other person to change the diaper or scrub the toilet.
So if you know any good ones, please let me know. I'm running out of ideas.