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Commentary: It seem that sloughing off on chores has become a family tradition

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Jean Simmons, columnist

Jean Simmons is a Franklin resident, nurse and published author who won a Janice Keck Literary Award from the Williamson County Public Library in 2014. She can be contacted at jean_simmons@hotmail.com

There are many inventive ways to avoid work when one wants to, such as acting clueless when asked for help on something you really don’t want to do. 

Sometimes my cluelessness is real, and sometimes it may be exaggerated.

When it concerns assisting my husband with car repairs, it is real. When it involves yard work, maybe not so much. I can’t give too many examples because my husband reads my columns.

Conversely, when I ask my husband to help with cooking something, he becomes helpless, unless it involves an outdoor grill and cooking a massive piece of meat. Then his inner caveman apparently takes over. Ask him to make dinner in the kitchen, however, and it’s a problem. 

“Can you set the oven to 400?” I may ask. “In a minute” is the usual response. “How do you set the oven again?” I patiently explain how to set it. A couple of hours later, I see the oven still not on, give up and set the temperature not so patiently. 

Where, exactly, all the pots and pans are stored seems to continue to be a mystery to him as well, even though they are always in the same place. I also find that grocery lists are useless if they are never looked at and that three items are apparently the maximum that a man can remember, if my husband and son are any indication.

Speaking of my son, I have noticed he often uses this same approach when I ask him to do some yard work. For example, “I need you to mow the front yard, Ryan.” This is answered with some variation of “I will do it in a minute.” Four hours later, “What am I supposed to mow?” “The carpet! What do you think you need to mow?” is my response, or some other variation. 

“Where is the mower? How do you turn it on? Is it supposed to make that funny noise? Can the cat ride on top while I mow?” and several other questions later I either give up or hold out and he actually mows. Other times, I roll my eyes, sigh heavily, get the mower out and look for adoption agencies online.

Pulling weeds and clipping hedges are other tasks that seem to need explanations every time.

“Is this a weed?” as he points to a gigantic, spiky, virulent looking weed growing in the middle of our beautiful lawn. The thing looks like it could be featured in a scary alien movie. 

Then he eventually gets to trimming the bushes as he begins haphazardly loping off parts of them while sitting in a lawn chair ignoring my instruction to cut evenly over the top and sides. Again, I either live with misshaped bushes that my neighbors pass by and shake their heads at or take the clippers and do it myself.

My son is very bright, so I know he is playing a game with me, and I will wear him down at some point, by God. He can make an A in trigonometry at school but is not sure how to shape the bushes? He is not only smart but also deviously smart as well. If I was not so annoyed with him, I would almost be proud. He has taken the art of how to get out of helping to a whole new level, and they say it’s a proud moment when your children surpass you, right?

Jean Simmons is a Franklin resident, published author, former nurse and contributor for the Williamson Herald. She can be reached at jean_simmons@hotmail.com.

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