As they say in Peter Pan, all children grow up. Our hearts might ache to recall it, seeing the cooing baby in our arms or the fat toddler squeeing over bubbles, but one day, our kids will be adults. We’re supposed to prepare them for that day. Generally, we all agree that’s our number-one job as a parent. Adulting takes some serious work, as we well know, like plunging toilets and paying the cable bill.
But usually, adulting also includes getting married or finding a life partner. That means we mothers of boys have some serious work to do. The husbands of the future are in our hands, ladies. We can’t screw this up. They’ve got to adult right. Here are 10 ways to raise boys to be great partners:
1. Doing the Laundry
A 2-year-old can help you empty the dryer. They can push the buttons as soon as they can reach or turn the dials as soon as you trust them on a stool. “S” is for “Sanitary Setting”! Six-year-olds like to prove their muscle by carrying clothes baskets and emptying hampers. If you start them early on folding — think 3-year-olds folding rags — maybe they won’t complain so much about it as they get older. Then later, they can practice their skills washing their own sheets, because things.
2. Plunging the Toilet
Someday, for some reason, you will have a Toilet Emergency. Maybe the toddler flushed a Star Wars figure. Maybe someone took a giant…you know. Call your boy and grab that plunger. He’s going to learn how to unclog that john so his wife doesn’t have to or his husband (we’re not making any assumptions here).
3. Changing the Oil
It’s stereotypical. Stereotypes are wrong, except when they keep your minivan running. Maybe entrust this one to Daddy if you were never lucky enough to learn how. Regardless, he should come out of the experience knowing the words “dipstick” and “oil cap” and general carspeak. This makes him sound smart in front of mechanics, and even if he knows nothing else, he can say these words, plus “carburetor,” “threw a rod,” and “transmission,” and he probably won’t get screwed.
Yeah, it’s a big job. But it’s the household cook’s job to pass the skills to the next generation. My husband learned to cook because his mother couldn’t, and now he cooks for us. He holds “cooking class” for our boys, where they chop things up with special knives and spread stuff and stir and generally do everything but crack eggs and mess with the stove. That’ll come when they’re 7. There’s nothing sexier than a man who can cook because it means you don’t have to. Give that gift to the wives or husbands of the future.
This looks like unskilled labor to the uninitiated. It is not, my friend. Boys need to learn how to stagger their vacuuming so it doesn’t make lines, how to make multiple passes over the same area, and what will and will not fit up the vacuum (paper yes, shards of wood no). As soon as they can see over the vacuum, there’s no reason for you to do it again ever. My dad vacuumed. My mom loved him for it. Do not underestimate the sexiness of clean carpets.
6. Picking Up Poop
It’s almost 100% likely that you have a pet. That pet produces poop. Your son needs more than a passing familiarity with it, because one day, God willing and the creek don’t rise, he’ll be giving you grandchildren. (Yes, it’s his choice. But sweet baby Buddha son, Mama wants you to procreate.) Babies produce lots of poop. If your son is familiar with scooping dog poop, baby poop will be a cakewalk. He’ll even think, This is better than all the times Mama made me pooper-scooper the yard.
7. How to Pick Out Jewelry
For himself. For a lady. He needs to develop taste beyond the counter at Walmart. Because one day — most likely — he’ll be getting married, and he’ll need either a gorgeous engagement lady ring or a gorgeous engagement man ring. You also don’t want him to embarrass his partner when it comes to wedding rings. And Christmas should include some sparkles, be they earrings or cufflinks. You don’t want his poor wife stuck with a box of jewelry she hates.
8. How to Babysit
At some point in his adult life, he’s going to be stuck with children, whether they’re his own or a sibling’s or friend’s. It would behoove him to know how to change a diaper, entertain a toddler, or tear a preteen away from Minecraft (hey, he can try).
9. How to Wash Dishes
By hand. Because the dishwasher breaks. He needs to know the best dish soap to use, how to scrub hard, and when to give up and soak it. Teach him not to use a Brillo pad on a non-stick pan and how to use that scrapey doohickey on the end of the brush. Nothing’s hotter than “I’ll do the dishes tonight, honey. The dishwasher’s broken.” Swoon.
10. How to Clean a Bathroom
In every life, one must scrub a toilet. Better be prepared. Even if his wife will be the main bathroom cleaner, as wives tend to be, mostly because woman have a higher gross-out threshold, he needs to know how to get under the rim, how to spray down the shower, and how to pick up a hairball (hint: not with your bare hands). Teach him to polish the faucet. Then it always looks clean.
Boy mamas, in your hands lie the fate of the wives (and husbands!) of the future. Maybe your child will choose not to marry. But he’ll probably have long-term partners, or please God, his own apartment. He needs the life skills, because life throws you small children and dirty toilets and broken dishwashers. He needs to know how to handle them. It’s up to you, Mama.