Anyone who has a four year old knows how his or her active imagination can take off. The list of games I play with Glenn stretch from the ridiculous to mundane. We pretend to play football, superheroes, lawn guys, hotel and doctor.
His favorite game to play with his aunt is…wait for it….Trash Guys. They pretend to drive around picking up everyone’s trash, and we all thank him for it. Sadly, it rarely results in any actual cleaning.
So the other night, I was making dinner, and he asked if we could play bad guys.
“I don’t want to play bad guys. Why do you always make me the bad guy? Let’s play restaurant?”
Hmm, he was intrigued but hesitant, asking how we play.
“Simple. You take my order, and then pretend to get me food,” I told him. I asked for pork chops, baked potatoes and corn. Shockingly, that’s what I was cooking. As a special treat, he offered dessert — a scrumptious strawberry and chocolate cheesecake.
It was delicious. Seriously, someone make me this cake.
After we were done, I suggested he play waiter, I play cook, and his mom could be the customer. She ordered the same thing, because she knew dinner was almost ready. I did recommend that, since his last customer walked out on the check, that he get payment from his mom up front. Anytime we play a game where I have to pay, I tell him I’m broke.
A few minutes later he comes around the corner, and informs me, “Mom doesn't have any money either!”
“Well, let her know she can either do the dishes, or we can put it on her tab.” Then, I have to explain that working is the same as money, and that is why doing the dishes is okay. He (smartly) decides she shouldn't be allowed a tab.
I hear Tammi from the other room. “Dishes aren't really in my skill set. Are you sure I couldn't just put it on my tab? I eat here all the time.”
He consults with me, and I prompt him for the next part of the conversation. “Your tab has been closed due to lack of payments.”
“Can I speak with your manager?” she inquires.
I come out as the manager and Tammi gives me the old eyelashes. “ Isn't there something I could do to pay for my dinner?”
I assure Glenn mommy will make sure her tab gets paid off, so he should seat her and set the table, you know, like a good waiter.
As I was doing the dishes later that evening, I wondered how my staying home will affect how the boys see gender roles. I imagined Glenn as a 7 year old on the playground. Someone may say something like, “Only mommies do dishes.” Glenn will dispute this myth. Boom…his first fight.
He already has ideas about what boys and girls can (should?) do. He pointed out to me that only boys can be bosses. I categorically disagreed with his assessment. I pointed out all the women in his life who are, in fact, bosses, not the least of whom is his mother. Society tells my boys the tired cliché that the kitchen is a woman’s place, but he comes home to see it is clearly Dad’s place. How can we expect him to understand this concept, when my own mother continues to struggle with the idea?
“Craig, where does Tammi keep the muffin pan?”
“She doesn’t have a muffin pan mom, but I have one. It’s in that drawer over there.”
I want the boys to enjoy cooking as much as I do, but society and the playground will continue to tell him it isn't cool. So far, I have two responses. Number one, only an idiot can’t feed himself. Number two, the best way into a girl’s house is to offer to cook. Number two doesn't carry much weight right now.