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Three men in a kitchen

Three men in a kitchen
In our family, the household management has always been my domain. I like cooking dinner for my family. I like putting all the food in serving bowls and passing it around a well-set table while we recount the details of the day. I don’t even mind doing laundry. I mean, who doesn’t love the smell of clean clothes? While some people may say this is a “Leave It to Beaver” system (minus the pearls), it’s a system that has worked for us for a long time. But no more. Since the car accident, I’ve been given a front row seat to what happens when a household is run completely by men. Let’s just say it’s been a learning experience. That’s a kind way of putting it. I’m prepared to share a typical day in the life of my beloved household — a place which is now run by my dear husband and two precious sons. From my recliner in the living room I can hear all the drama. I choose to smile and whisper to myself, “This, too, shall pass.”
“Son, why don’t you crack the eggs and I’ll look for the frying pan. You don’t know where the frying pan is, do you?”
“No. Dad, is it OK if some egg shells land in the bowl?”
“I guess. Be sure to put out paper plates and plastic forks. Remember our motto, Son!”
“I remember, Dad: No dish washing unless absolutely necessary!”
“Daddy, Mama doesn’t put that much butter in the pan. I don’t think she turns it on high either. And I don’t think there’s supposed to be smoke.”
“Smoke just adds to the flavor, Son.”
Sometimes I just have to speak, “Guys, is everything OK in there?”
“Sure, Mom! We’re making eggs in a NEW way!”
I’ve learned a lot of NEW things from watching my men run the house. One thing I’ve learned is that they take a very practical approach to daily living. Their household management philosophy could be summed up in one sentence: Never put anything away! Now this philosophy is not based on sheer laziness. Oh no. This is a fine-tuned approach that keeps the men in my house from having to search for things. If nothing is ever put away, they figure there will be less searching. The cereal boxes now live on the dining room table because we’ll need them in the morning and the guys have determined that there’s no valid reason to keep them in the pantry. The pile of paper plates and plastic forks now live out in the open on the kitchen counter with boxes of Pop-Tarts™, clean dishes, packages of AA batteries, plastic cups, Scotch™ tape, books, measuring cups and Matchbox™ cars. No, there’ll be no frantic searching for any of these valuable items because we all know they’re right there on the overflowing kitchen counter. The clean clothes live in folded piles so they can be seen and enjoyed by all.
I admit it has been challenging at times … watching my all-male family change my domestic routine. But it’s also been wildly entertaining. Just hearing the three of them do laundry together was better than a year of comedy movies.
The whole experience has been positive for all of us. The boys have learned how to perform basic household duties. And I’ve learned that things don’t always have to be done my way. When I get better, I may even adopt their household philosophy as my own. But I doubt it.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. She can be reached by e-mail at lisa@lisasmartt.com.

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