Chet, my office chum, needs my family mayonnaise recipe. He and I had a chat last week about kids. All chats with Chet are about kids because Chet’s kids are all Chet ever has to talk about. Chet’s kids keep him so busy that other than during the working hours of 8 and 5 he believes he has time for nothing else. This singularity of our small talk might be a problem were we to have an actual friendship but Chet and I are merely “office friends” and the rules of engagement for these friendships are somewhat more lax.
Besides, I like it.
Chet gets to describe the antics and the often not-so-exciting tribulations of his three children (ages of 5, 12 and 16) in such remarkable detail and I can make mental notes on the many future milestones my baby niece will soon bust past. Were it not for my weekly Chet chats I probably wouldn’t know at what age girl’s soccer practice begins, how much a math tutor costs, or what happens when a toddler takes a crap in the community pool during his swimming lessons.
Chet in turn gets to hear me rattle on about how hard it is to get into all the new restaurants we’ve been wanting to try, how there isn’t enough time during our jaunts to New York City to see all the shows on our list, and how hard it has been to find just the exact shade of red we want to paint our bathroom. Oh….and of course the funny stunt our cat pulled last night.
I”m sure neither of us would want to trade lives permanently with the other (especially me) no matter how tempting that might be at times. (Not at all tempting.) Our infrequent water cooler exchanges, however, vicariously give us enough taste of the other’s life to gratefully go home and embrace our choices.
Last week’s discussion not surprisingly centered around kids once gain. Chet seemed tired (again) and revealed (again) about how much there is for him to do around the house each night after getting home from work. Laundry folding, cleaning the dishes left from breakfast, resetting the coffee maker for the next day, feeding the dog, setting the table for dinner, and helping his two youngest with their homework.You know the drill. I suggested that one way of coping would be to add a few of these responsibilities to the kid’s chores STAT! One man’s family is another man’s workforce after all.
Chet seemed reticent to add anything to what he though was their already full daily task list.
“My kids already do a lot around the house,” he protested. “We want them to have free time to do some things they enjoy doing.”
”Argue for your children’s limitations, and sure enough, they’re theirs,”
I awkwardly answered him back by paraphrasing one of my favorite Richard Bach quotes, not sounding quite as wise as he. I couldn’t help but wonder just what after school tasks took so much of their time that they couldn’t feed the dog without giving up the dance classes and soccer practices that Chet taxi’d his kids to and from each weekend?
Time must really stand still when children aren’t in your life because Chet’s chore list for his kids wasn’t exactly what I was expecting to hear. Its a testament to the times we live in.. Nobody told me life had changed this much from when I was young.
Chet’s oldest, a 16 year old girl who wants to be a bio major or a corporate economist one day, is in charge of the family’s Twitter and Facebook feeds. She contributes to the family and earns her gas money by posting no fewer than 3 updates a day so grandma and grandpa know what they are all up to. She is also known as the family “curator” and must manage the the family photo library and system backups before getting her allowance each week. Family members can hand their photo memory cards to Chet’s “little girl” and she transfers the photos and populates the various online albums for family and friends. She’ll update your operating system’s security update patches (Windows only) and refills the family’s two printers with paper and inkjet cartridges whenever needed. Having trouble connecting to the WiFi network? Call Charise. Chet’s Geek Squad.
I guess I can now see how why she might might not leave much time left for doing the dishes and helping her sister with her homework. Oh, and Chet’s family has a Twitter feed? Huh?
Far be it from me however to throw judgement at what should pass for family chores. Certainly I have had my share of oddball childhood chores. Some of them, like weed pulling on Saturdays, would generate much pissing and moaning on my part. Others fascinated me and would portend to future passions. For instance I am forever in debt to whichever parent dreamt up making it my job to bar-tend when they hosted their dinner or cocktail parties.
Oh, I still had to feed the dog each day, pick up her poo in the side yard, babysit my little brother and twin sister (I know), and many more of the common tasks kids get asked to do. Having these extra-curricular ways to contribute to the family, however, taught me different sorts of life skills. Skills like knowing how Mrs. Katsokopolis likes her martinis. (Dirty, two olives.)
So what does any of this have to do with mayonnaise? (Do you still ask these questions here?)
The Family Mayonnaise Recipe
In addition to all of the childhood chores so far mentioned, one of my favorite household responsibilities was to make the family mayonnaise. Seriously, this was one of my “chores” although it was no chore at all.
I am probably responsible for more more jars of home-made mayonnaise than there were weeds pulled from my mother’s garden. Mom one day learned that store-bought mayonnaise was full of crappy oils and that was that. She figured out for herself how to make it with better oils and how to season and flavor it for variety. One taste of home-made and that sealed the deal. No more store bought. Then she taught me and from that point forward we enjoyed richer, sunnier, healthier mayonnaise.
Now what can I get you to drink?
adapted from my mom’s mayonnaise recipe
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