wings and things

A conversation between a 20-year-old son and his 50ish mother about washing the dishes

on March 6, 2014

Me: We need to talk about the dishes.
Ming: I don’t care about the dishes.
Me: I want them washed; after all, they are mostly your dishes.
Ming: Ask me then!
Me: Why should I have to ask you when it is quite obvious that there are dishes on the sink that need washing?
Ming: It isn’t a priority for me; I want to clean the windows.
Me: I don’t care about the windows at the moment – I care about the dishes.
Ming: Well, I asked you if you wanted me to do the dishes this morning and you said it was okay not to.
Me: That’s only because I wanted you to do it anyway.
Ming: So I am supposed to read your mind?
Me: No, you are supposed to have a bit of initiative. If something needs to be done, then do it!
Ming: Well, write me a list, Mum.
Me: But why can’t you just simply see what needs doing, and do it?
Ming: Because I can’t.
Me: Well we will just have to agree to disagree won’t we!
Ming: I don’t know, Mum – you are so difficult sometimes!
Me: Sigh!

The above was a rather rowdy exchange today about a few dishes, which escalated into a bit of a war of utter miscommunication, diatribe, then, finally reconciliation (with a caveat to not mention the dishes again!)

In the meantime, my prodigal (anti-dishes son) cleaned all of the outside windows, which is a massive job, and we sat down at the kitchen table to make lists of chores. This little chore-meeting didn’t go particularly well because we were arrowing our foreheads against each other quite boppily until Ming suggested a hug (a few hours later!)

And then he said, “Mum, I am on your side, I am your best friend, I am sorry we don’t understand each other and, at the moment, I hate your guts but I still love you.”

Perhaps it is a male/female thing – initiative? I don’t know but one thing for sure is that, now that my hands are nearly better from this stupid pompholyx I will not be mentioning dishes again. After all, our Ming is doing everything else in his power to keep things on an even keel, including me.

So I salute my brat!

59 responses to “A conversation between a 20-year-old son and his 50ish mother about washing the dishes

  1. You both have so much on the plate– and yet manage to find humor in so many things. It’s amazing he’s washing windows! I’d say– get paper plates and let dish washing go…. sweat the big stuff!

  2. bulldog says:

    I salute him as well…. not easy for a young lad to know all the intricacies of a woman’s mind when it comes to kitchen duties… he hates you but he loves you… that says it all… I was a young lad once, a bloody long time ago, but I was….

  3. When I started reading your blog, you had an eighteen year old son. What happened to him?

  4. I salute him as well! For the laughing he has initiated over here ! 🙂

  5. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    I can’t believe a 20 yr old washed all the windows. I’ve never heard of that before.

    For goodness sake, Julie, don’t let him escape………..(especially since you’ve got no doors).

    If I was 40 years younger I’d be on a plane over to your side of the country to claim him for my own.

  6. The one word that does not apply to the male species and any type of housework is ….initiative…so even getting Ming to acknowledge that the dishes need doing up is miracle! Ha so glad you got windows on outside done now if he will do inside your good to go.
    As frustrated as he makes you he loves you mum ! hugs my friend oh and happy for your hands healing. 🙂

  7. KDKH says:

    Sounds like the typical gender gap. My husband always wanted a list and I replied that he should just know and do it, like you did. Then one day, I realized that he did whatever I put on a list quickly, without complaining. My wish was his command . Why, oh why, did I ever resist the list? Now, I add things like date night to the list, and I get that too. You could Stop resisting the list and use it to bring peace to your life. Men like the list – and they don’t want to fight either.

  8. LOL — love you and your son! One of the things we women expect is for men to ‘take the initiative’ and do the housework without our asking. Aren’t we a funny species! They see the big picture of dirty windows. We see the dirty dishes! 🙂

  9. Parenting is so darn hard even when they are grown. I know exactly what you meant about the initiative thing, I have my own moments with my two, it is an exercise in deep breathing for me. Got to love the babies, thank goodness for all of the memories of them as babies and little ones, it helps a lot. 😀

  10. I think in general the male segment of society like to choose what they ‘deem’ important to do. Dishes I guess seem more menial and certainly not as challenging as the windows… I love the exchanges you have … so open and honest… but loving Diane

  11. elizabeth says:

    I salute him too Julie. He’s a true gem. Most kids his age wouldn’t be interested in doing ANY chores. The fact he, without pressure, cleaned all the windows speaks volumes. What’s really funny about this conversation is that It reminded me of conversations with Bo except he was the one saying, I hate you! While I was the one saying, I still love you anyway son. 🙂

  12. I’d say it’s a male/female thing (they just see the world differently than we do; with different expectations for communication) and a mother/son thing; and a late adolescence thing (they do say that young men don’t grow entirely out of adolescence until their mid-twenties).

    In any cases, you’re both very cool people.

  13. That Ming is a good boy! Men need lists about stuff they don’t care about. I know I need a list about stuff I don’t care about like oil changes for my car, getting winter tires, cleaning gutters, etc. Every man I’ve ever known gladly does his part when he knows what’s expected from someone he loves…
    Diana xo

  14. Save that dialogue for your next book! Good stuff Jules, although it probably wasn’t that entertaining for you. Hugs!

  15. tootlepedal says:

    Men may well regard the house as the woman’s domain and will only interfere (clean things up) of told to. Also, if I am a good example, men may find it quite hard to notice mould, dust, spiders webs etc until they are pointed out. I put this down to having to worry about the situation in the Ukraine, my wife regards it as wilful blindness.

    I should say that I notice when the car is dirty…..but I don’t do anything about that either.

  16. janeslog says:

    When you’ve got no dishes left you end up doing the dishes.

    I once did a Saturday course at Stow College in Glasgow, now called Glasgow Kelvin College. A woman was on the course who was a bit ‘thick’ and could not follow the course work. I agreed to go to her house to go over the notes with her. She lived near the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow, which is in the West End and very posh.

    Her house was a pig sty. Before I left I went to the toilet which looked like it had last been cleaned 10 years previously. In the bath were a load of dirty dishes. I was shocked.

    Be glad you are not living like that.

  17. janechese says:

    The guys do have a priority and are honest that they prefer one job over the other.And we need to let them do it in their time (within reason).Women are sometimes bad at thinking others can read their mind and do this passive-aggressive thing.Like, when driving in the car, “Honey do you want to stop and go to the bathroom?’ and he says “No” and keeps driving. She fumes and gets cramps in her gut and resents him.Better to say “Please stop at the next place. I need to go to the bathroom.” Saves a lot of trouble to just get to the point and state what you want.:)

  18. Tiny says:

    He suggested a hug! Who needs dishes done when a hug is offered 🙂

  19. FlaHam says:

    Julie, I am with Ming on this, If I asked you if you wanted something done and you said no. I am not going to do it. Yet hours later I am so confused when I catch crap for not understand that no ment yes (sometimes) and that yes ment no (usually) and that there was no common ground. I was so fortunate, my daughter left home at 18 for college, and has been on her own since. I am sure that the love we have for our kids is equal, but I will also say, that they both can be PIA’s to a degree unknown on this earth. But and it’s a big one, it is a guy/gal thing. Us guys need a list, we don’t care really what it is on it, but we need it, we don’t want to be forced to read your mind, we don’t want to have to show initiative, we just want to get to it and get the work done. I applaud Ming for his efforts, you are teaching him well. But Julie my darling, your treating him like a man, and just plan confusing the crap out of him. LOL LOL. But please please please keep sharing the stories they are keeping me laughing my fool ass off. Take care, Bill

  20. I’ve had much the same conversation with both my son and my husband. And when they do the dishes they expect praise. I don’t get thanked profusely for washing the dishes, do you?

  21. Judith says:

    I love this post! And I love your brat! Especially his line “at the moment,I hate your guts, but I still love you.” Sounds like the typical mother/son relationship to me:)

  22. Not so much a male/female thing as a parent/child thing I only have girls but take it from me they would look at the dirty dishes and do nothing even when we got the dishwasher they would look at dishes on the sink and never once thought to put them in the dishwasher, hell they still don’t bother to pack the dishwasher

  23. I think it’s a male/female thing. And I would be willing to wash the dishes for a month if Ming would come and wash our windows!

  24. viveka says:

    Wow, to Ming’s comfort and support … I don’t do the dishes after every meal .. and not even every day. This I call a zero conversation. *smile

  25. Lynda says:

    Julie, I adore how you two can blast each other verbally and then hug and make up later. In our family it was always the verbal blast, and we kids kowtowed after.

    Hugs: the great family healers. 😀

    • jmgoyder says:

      Yes I think we are lucky in a way (that whole honesty thing) but so hard to accept the hugs sometimes, esp when he is being a total arsehole!

      • Lynda says:

        I think it is a guy thing. Not the arsehole, but the not seeing the obvious.

        I have the same trouble with Bob and his ‘man-filter’ view of the world. Why is it so hard for them to see, and to intuit what you are needing? I ask for assistance, and then get mad when he doesn’t respond the way I expect, or flies back with a request for more specificity from me.

        Me: I need a little help here! (I’m trying to bandage the little dog and he has gone squirmer on me)

        Him: not responding

        Me: Are you going to help? (!!!)

        Him: What do you want me to do? (!!!)

        Me: Isn’t it obvious? Just hold the damn dog!!!

        Him: Well you could of told me what you wanted in the first place!

        Me: 😡

        We still love them. 😀

  26. ksbeth says:

    i totally get this and love it.

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