What A Chore: The Imperfect Parent

30/03/2011 11:40 | Updated 22 May 2015

ChoreIt's time to work through the weekend chore-list.

'Right,' I say, brandishing the broom. 'Can you sweep the flat for me?'

Unimpressed, Ben takes it, but instantly gets distracted by a Facebook link: The World's Worst Parents, featuring Photoshopped pics of babies driving 4x4s and shooting handguns.

'Ahem. Sweeping?'

'Oka-y, in a minute,' he says, not moving.

Bristling, I start to speak, then check myself and stand on the balcony for a minute, watching a hooded youth throwing sticks for his Staffie on the communal green below. I take a few deep breaths, then march back into the living room.

'Ben, can you do it now please?' I say pointedly.

He glances at me, hearing the edge to my voice, then drags himself away from the computer and starts sweeping.

While folding the laundry (my life: so thrilling!) I think about why this whole chore situation bugs me. It's clearly a father-son flashpoint, when I need/want him to do something he has no desire to do. It's boring, admittedly, and a bit grubby, and he'd rather be laughing at gun-toting tots. Who wouldn't?

But apart from the obvious power struggle, I think it's a generational thing. When I was Ben's age, I worked with my dad every weekend, helping him renovate a near-derelict house for the princely sum of 50p an hour. And I have to say, on a bitter January morning when I was up to my ankles in cement while my mates played football and ate Curly-Wurlys, I wasn't best pleased.

But I was proud to be working alongside grown men, doing my share. And we really bonded, my dad and me, over two by fours and plasterboard – he taught me how to build big, complicated things with my hands, which every man should know. And there was just this... expectation that you were part of the family, so you mucked in.

Now, chores really are a chore. Most kids I know spend their free time glued to some form of screen (mobile to iPod to laptop and back again). It's the mums and dads who wash up, do the laundry, sweep the floors, take out the rubbish and do all the other fascinating stuff it takes to keep domestic life trundling along.

So I've decided to make a stand. Floor-sweeping, rubbish-taking-out, bread-and-milk-buying: all Ben's jobs from now on. If he complains I'll launch into an 'In my day...' speech. And even the dullest chore is fun compared to that.

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