Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cooking, Exercising, and possibly Gender

Y pulls food out of the fridge while
N-son makes hamburger patties using canning rings.
Miser Dog is *always* ready to help
with the cooking!
School starts up soon again, and in the way that one thing leads to another, cooking meals is becoming a thing-to-reckon-with.  I've long believed in teaching my kids to cook, and I've had intermittent success at actually enforcing a cooking rotation for dinner duties.  Both of my sons have got some serious culinary skills now.

But, man, is it an effort to keep that rotation going!  It seems like any little bump in the road of our daily schedules knocks the dinner-rotation-train off its tracks, and I wind up taking over the main part of the cooking again.  Even this past year, with my husband retired (so that in theory he could take on the majority of dinner-time duties), I've ended up preparing meals about three nights a week, which is more than any other person in the home does.

Part of this is because -- I admit -- I'm a bit of a control freak about some things.  I rescue food from the soup kitchen where I work so that it doesn't get tossed in the trash, and so I make pizza-bagels for dinner that night.  Or we have a family special dinner about once a month, and preparations for those events are Mine-All-Mine, baby.  Or there are vegetables coming out of our ears because of our CSA and our garden, and I feel morally obligated to get those green things onto the table and into our bellies before they turn into something only the compost pile would accept.

So at any rate, I know the dinner-on-me thing is partly a matter of my own bossy and controlling tendencies.

But there's more going on that dictates dinner management, and I think it's a sports thing -- maybe even a gendered sports thing.  I think that athletics conspires to make moms (and not sons or husbands) do the dinner cooking.  Am I crazy to think so?

My female friends and I love running together.   We all, in our various ways, schedule our running early in the morning, to minimize family disruption.  With my friend June, I run about 4k every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 6 a.m.  We get home by 6:30, wake our kids to get them ready for school, and then get ourselves ready for work.  My long-distance friends run together on Saturdays at the "late" hour of 7 a.m., which means our kids can sleep in until we get home.

My husband and his (mostly male) buddies, on the other hand, have a daily bike ride that starts at 4:00 p.m. and lasts until 6 or 6:30 -- which is right when the kids are getting out of school and starting homework.  My sons similarly have late afternoon/early evening sports.  J-son doesn't get home from boxing until 7:15.  N-son has after-school squash, plus evening drums and voice rehearsals.  So the men-folk in my household are not around to prepare dinner, at least not unless we wait until 8 p.m. to eat.  If our friends are any indication, the same pattern holds in many households across our city.

With the school year starting up again -- and with my committee load kicking into high gear this year -- I've been keeping an eye on our dinner scheduling.  We've recently pulled out the old "Family Meal Planning White Board" (with the days of the week in permanent marker, and the chef of the day in dry erase marker).  There are five us us at home (that includes our host daughter, Y, who takes a meal a week), so there are plenty of chefs to go around.  With a bit of careful work, we can coordinate with sports and musical schedules.

Sometimes, the hard part about making dinner is figuring out what to make. But for our family lately, it's almost as tricky to figure out who is making it.  Wish us luck!

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