Friday, April 8, 2011

Division of labor

"Mom, my fish died," EB says to me first thing this morning. "Which one?" I asked, nestling further down into the covers. "The new one," she said. "Oh, well, take the bowl downstairs and have Dad throw it out," I tell her.

See, in my house, dead things are not my department. Dad is the one who flushes the fish, gets mice out of traps (and a live one out of my tub once, yeccch!), shovels up slugs, dead skunks (once) and disposes of them. He's the dead guy.

My job is bad smells and bodily fluids. If the dog, she of the sensitive stomach, throws up, or worse (Mom, the house smells like poo), I get to spring into action. Well, maybe not spring, more like slouch into action.

This morning's tragedy turned out to be a false alarm. Said fish actually started swimming around just as my husband got ready to scoop her out and deposit her into a watery grave.

But this is how our life goes. My husband wants to know why he has to get rid of dead things on the property. I want to know why my life can be summed up in five words: The dog got skunked again. And in the context of divided labor in our home, let's talk about Cocoa.

Our dog is part chow chow and totally ridiculous. In the less than two years we've had her, she's been skunked, no lie, seven times! Now, I love this dog and she will be a part of our family till death do us part, but she is 38 pounds of stupid when it comes to the slow-moving striped kitties. And, since as the family dog, she's Mom's dog, I get to clean her every time those five dreaded little words are spoken. (Vinegar and water, bought in those handy packages in the drug store works really well, especially when coupled with the skunk remover shampoo and spray from the pet stores. Some of us have to buy in bulk.)

But back to the third person in this division of labor. Earbaby apparently has figured out early (don't they all?) that if chores are divided into two and there are three people, she gets to do nothing. Which she does very well. Her job with the fish is to feed them every day. They're Betta, separated in a bowl so they can see each other, but not kill each other. They're hardy for the most part, lasting about 2-3 years. Apparently her job ends with sprinkling little flakes once a day. My job is cleaning the bowl, and dad's is removing the corpses when they go on to fish heaven.

We're a family of fins, fur and feathers. The two doves are solely my responsibility. I've raised doves for 30 years and I've always loved having them. What do they do? Well, they're birds, they eat and poop. And coo. I take care of them because I love the cooing. My husband's only interaction is to yell, "Shaddup" when they get really loud. EB shows them to her friends and ignores them, although she is supposed to (!) sweep up under their cage.

Now the dog is supposedly everyone's job. Dad feeds and sometimes walks her, I walk her, clean up the yard after her, pay for anything and everything dog-related and EB gets to pet and play with her. There's a reason I always tell friends whose kids want a dog, don't get a dog unless Mom wants a dog. Two weeks after the newness wears off, it's Mom's dog. The first two weeks we got Cocoa, EB would willingly clean up after her without even being asked. Then she decided that job wasn't fun (gee, the rest of the world loves picking up poop!) and tried to negotiate a raise in her allowance from $5 (for sweeping the kitchen floor, which she also never does), to $20 for picking up after the dog. She got nothing, yet still won. Because I do it. All the time.

So that division of labor thing? Earbaby has already figured it out. She has divided -- and conquered.

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