We know a bit about raising boys. I mean, at least until they’re in elementary school. We haven’t made it to the teenage years (which I hear is way easier than having a teenage girl), but I feel like there are a number of items that we have on our list of things we need to teach them. I am fortunate because my mother-in-law taught hubs well, so when we first started dating, I really didn’t face a lot of the things mentioned below. I’ve just heard about them from friends and co-workers over the years. Sometimes they’re complaining, other times they’re just stating a fact, like they know that’s how it’s always going to be. It made me realize that there are some things I need to make sure they are taught. Hopefully that will give me a shot at a healthier relationship with my daughter-in-laws someday. Well, as healthy as that relationship can be I suppose.
1) Laundry. They need to learn how to wash the funk out of their clothes. This is not just the “woman’s” job and is not optional. They won’t have a woman to do this for them (presumably) until they’re at least 40 (isn’t that what all moms think?) and we don’t want to smell the stinky socks until then. We’ve started this process with them by learning how to sort clothes and fold/put away clothes. I’m not ready for the actual act of adding detergent and pushing buttons. I mean, we’re talking about young boys here. I’m pretty sure a tsunami of detergent bubbles down the stairs would be in my future if we moved on to the “fun part”.
2) Cooking. There is something to be said about a man who can cook. I like to cook and I think I do an alright job at it (nobody has died from my cooking, yet). But, there are nights, mornings, times during the week that I would love to just step away from the kitchen but am not feeling take-out. Hubs steps in and typically hooks up some really good eats. He’s really good at breakfast food (as shown in the picture- caramel apple pancakes, omelet and bacon).
I can’t, with a clean conscience, send them off on their path of life only knowing how to toast a bagel or make mac-n-cheese. They’ve done some cooking, but, like the laundry, we’re taking that in supervised baby steps. I would like them to make it to the point where they can cook me dinner someday!
3) Table manners. These are a must. I am in NO WAY an Emily Post, but nothing is more obnoxious when I’m at dinner with friends, work, wherever, and a grown man is talking with their mouth full, is mean to the wait staff, or is putting his grubby hands all over the basket of bread. My boys were not born in a barn. We’re not perfect, but in the appropriate setting, I sure hope we’re not grossing everyone at the table out. I suppose we should also work on making sure certain discussion topics do not come up, namely farting and pooping.
4) Cleaning. Again, not just a woman’s job. Hubs knows that a clean house lights my fire. It’s one less thing I have to do and it makes for a peaceful place to relax in. Not to mention, boys are MESSY! I get it, that’s a given when you have kids. But, at some point, they need to be responsible for their own mess. Not only that, I want them to recognize when things need to be cleaned. Don’t wait until the dust bunny hops out from the corner on its own, clean it when you think of it. Besides, they say boys often marry a woman who is like their mom (poor kids!). If that’s the case, she will LOVE a clean house!
5) Grocery shopping. They already know how I operate. Unless it’s a needed item (toilet paper, diapers, milk), it better be on sale if we’re going to get it. Even better if you have a coupon. Yes, I do buy regular price items, sometimes you can’t avoid it. But, unless I’m grocery shopping when I’m hungry (they also know what happens when you shop while hungry- hello overflowing cart!), we try hard to get what we need and get out. Most importantly, they’re learning what a grocery store is like. So, when they’re wife sends them to the store at the last minute to get an angel food cake for dessert, they can go independently without a lot of questions (true story, just happened tonight!).
6) Budgeting. When I say “it’s not in the budget” that means no, so stop asking. They need to be independent financially when they leave home for good, and even more so when they begin a family. Those lessons are hard to learn sometimes. So we figure, if we start now, that can only be a good thing. After all, I really don’t want them living in my basement when they’re grown.
7) Ironing. Although this might fall into the laundry category for a lot of people, which makes sense, it’s such a hot button for me that I needed to call it out on its own. When I met hubs, he actually ironed more than I did (that’s the good training from his mom). When I’m in meetings, professional meetings, and there is a guy sitting there looking like he just rolled out of bed, it makes me crazy. Most of the times I’ve seen this, they’ve been single men. Maybe that’s why they’re single? Either way, they need to know how to iron for themselves and not rely on their wife. Or, find a job that pays enough that you can just dry clean everything. In that case, maybe I’ll be living in their basement.
These are important items for general success (and survival) in life. We can’t expect to do nothing until they’re 18 and heading to college. This is not a light switch where you turn it on and they will move forward flawlessly. We want our boys to be able to be valuable to their wives someday, able to contribute and work as a team. So, to my future daughter-in-law, you’re welcome.