It’s amazing to think that some parents keep their children ignorant of the facts of life. Sometimes, these unfortunate children grow to adulthood never knowing these vital facts, and it can be a source of stress and tension in their married lives. No, not those facts of life. We all know the importance of teaching our children about where babies come from, and how boys and girls are different. What I’m talking about is the facts of household life.
Or maybe the two groups of facts of life are related. Some children – teenagers even – seem to think that their mother is a maid. Well, “maid” is short for “maiden”, which is a synonym for “virgin” and your mother is, very obviously, not one.
Are you sitting comfortably, children? Listen to mother telling you a few simple facts. (Note to adults reading this – make sure you know these facts and that you pass them on to your kids).
* The chief task of your parents is to help you grow up into independent, healthy, capable and responsible adults; not to be your personal servants who clean up after you.
* If you leave a spill or smear alone, it gets worse, not better.
* Toilet rolls do not get changed by little fairies. If you use the last bit, put a new roll on.
* If you are able to reach the butter, the plates, the cups or whatever, do it yourself.
* Some household jobs are not done for money but simply to help the household get by. So no, you won’t get paid for laying the table or feeding the cat. You may, however, at your parents’ discretion, be paid for extras such as mowing lawns.
* If you want it washed, make sure it gets into the washing basket. Not beside the basket, not next to the basket, not in the vicinity of the basket, but IN the basket. And don’t tell me that someone who can slot a goal/take that wicket/score that three-point basket can’t get a pair of socks into a washing basket.
* To paraphrase Shirley Conran, if you leave it on the floor, you can expect it to be trodden on by other people (OK, other people will do their best to avoid things, as nobody likes bits of biro embedded in their foot, but do us and you a favour – we may need to get across that room in the dark).
* Yes, a messy room is a health hazard. Dust is a breeding ground for asthma-causing mites. Mould causes all sorts of respiratory problems. And unvacuumed carpets are prone to fleas, especially if you let that dog/cat sleep in your room.
* You make the mess, you tidy it up. Extreme mess may require assistance. Your parents are the judge of what constitutes extreme mess depending on your age.
* If your clothes are grubby, put them out for washing (in the basket, remember). If you put them back in the drawer or (what’s worse) in a dark corner under your bed, you run the risk of ruining a shirt with mildew or a permanent stain.