Jeff Ward: Do They Have a Homemaker Merit Badge?

Because if they do, I want one!

Since my wife has taken up indentured servitude … I mean, student teaching, in her words, I’ve become quite the housewife. We’ve already discussed the impetus for my transformation, which includes teachers getting up at 5:30, commanding the classroom till 3 p.m., attending afternoon meetings and then grade papers until bedtime.

Being the eminently supportive work-at-home spouse I am, I’ve taken over many of the household tasks that tend to tip toward moms. And when you consider just how much that weekly trip to the trash can winded me for days, I think I might be in line for a sainthood nomination.

And let me tell you, it ain’t easy. So in an effort to unravel housekeeping’s many mysteries and possibly reduce that steep learning curve for any husband who’s about to undertake similar ordeal, I thought we could cover a few things here.

While most schoolchildren require the use of a crowbar, C4, or a strategically placed bucket of ice to pry them out of bed on weekdays, they will arise at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning to play videogames. And whoever invented the snooze alarm definitely didn’t have children.

Children, who tend to have suspicious natures, believe that all breakfast food is poisonous and will generally make every effort to avoid it—unless it’s something along the lines of chocolate frosted sugar bombs, in which case they’ll eat enough to be bouncing off the walls.

School lunches! On the rare occasion I actually remember to make them and don’t have to run around the house looking for two $5 bills—they aren’t nearly as easy as they look.

If you make the horrific mistake of putting the ham on the sandwich first and then attempting to open the sliced cheddar cheese, you will find your impossibly slimy fingers will make that simple endeavor it impossible.

Then you get a call from one of your son’s principals when they get caught repeating the phraseology you used to express your dismay over those impossible to open (or close) ziplocks now built into most food packaging.

And by the way, no matter how frustrated you might become by a nearly empty mustard container, do not, in a fit of pique, squeeze the thing as hard as you can, because that condiment is actually a low level explosive that will stain everything including your children.

On to the washing machine! It’s amazing how, just like sunlight radiation’s inverse square law, four family members actually generate 16 times the amount of dirty clothes—most of which reside on the miscreants’ bedroom floors.

And the youngest one loves to keep a large supply of Kleenex in his pockets to keep me on my toes. Most moms know that when subjected to water and then intense dryer heat Kleenex has amazing dispersive properties.

Because I’ve never liked how my wife washes my running and biking garb, I’m actually pretty proficient at this endeavor. When in doubt, simply set the washer to the cold water and dry everything on the delicate or low setting.

This way when you put her silk and/or wool sweaters in the dryer you don’t turn them into baby clothes.

Applying the same kind of physics properties, the probability of the dog coming in from the back yard with four muddy feet is inversely proportionate to the amount of time that’s passed since I last Swiffered the kitchen floor.

And speaking of housecleaning, I’ve managed to do better than my wife in that regard, which really isn’t setting the bar nearly high enough. Though they work quite well, the price a Dyson vacuum should include a rather cute young woman (or man depending up on your tastes) dressed in a skimpy French maid outfit.

As far as homework help goes, unless it’s writing, I still save that for her because my mathematical memory ain’t what it used to be. Perhaps it’s inhaling all that Swiffer spray!

Two weeks ago, Principal Extraordinaire Adam Law and I combined our massive intellects in an effort to determine exactly how to calculate a percentage for my Feb. 28 Geneva red-light camera column. At one point he remarked, “Wow! This is kind of like the blind leading the blind.”

The good news is we did eventually prevail.

Then it’s time to cook dinner! And something my father always said has certainly rung true, “The best cooks in the world are men.”

Perhaps it’s just our heritage, but my mother and her mother were terrible cooks. What do you expect from two women raised in a culture where blood pudding, bangers and mash, and wiener schnitzel are haute cuisine?

Trust me, my wife is no great shakes in this regard either.

Thankfully, the oven catastrophe gene somehow skipped me, because I can pull together a pretty good dinner in about a half an hour without breaking a sweat. And now that we’re eating this good, I ain’t about to go back to the way things were by returning those reins to her.

Perhaps this was her master plan all along.

If any of you men out there want to give the gourmet thing a shot, spend some time perusing the quick recipes on the Cooks Illustrated site (online subscription required) or embark on a few searches at the free Epicurious website.

So there you have it. Though I’ve always tried to be helpful, I now harbor a new appreciation for what so many of you moms manage to accomplish on daily basis. Maybe we’ll just put off that whole sainthood thing for awhile.



Jamie Daniel March 12, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Prove your culinary skill: there are still openings for the "60 Men Who Cook". Call The Geneva History Center, 630-232-4951, to volunteer. Surely, Geneva Patch will be your sponsor!
Jeff Ward March 12, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Jamie, As much as I'd like to, between a student teaching wife, coaching a travel soccer team and writing 5 columns a week I don't have much time. Jeff


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