I have this theory that kids of today are so much less able than we were. Now I sound like my mother (You don't know you're born etc etc) oh dear...
Anyway, I think they're pathetically incapable of the smallest domestic task – well, either that or they have what Psychologists like to call “learned helplessness”. Indeed, I love to bore my children with the story of how I made my mum breakfast in bed at the age of 6 - and I mean a proper, cooked breakfast - bacon, egg, mushrooms and tomato and a cup of tea. This, I should also point out, involved the lighting of a gas burner with matches – can you imagine one of today’s helicopter parents even having matches in the house much less leaving them where a 6 year old could get hold of them, much, much less teaching said 6 year old how to use them safely....! Okay, the meal might not have been worthy of a Michelin star, but my teenagers would struggle to do this today - and it's not for lack of trying to teach them!
TS is off to Uni in the autumn, so you might think he’d be vaguely interested in learning to knock up some basic dishes to stave off the boredom of beans on toast 6 nights a week and some form of takeaway on the 7th. Oh no – not a bit of it. Any feeble attempts on my part to get him to, for example, chop an onion are met with expressions of sheer horror. When I point out to him how cheap it would be to make a batch of bolognaise he is overcome by ennui, yawns expansively and leaves the room.
However, there is a chink in his armour! (The Shah just came along and read that over my shoulder and said “Ooh – racist! Shouldn’t that be “person of Asiatic origin in his armour”?) Anyway, I digress – the chink is a certain couscous dish that I make and which he loves. I was putting it together recently and he was standing by, slavering, so I said it would speed up the process no end if he would help a bit. To my utter amazement he replied “why not? Got nuffin’ else to do,” (which counts as extreme enthusiasm on planet teenager). So, I asked him to chop some olives up – nothing fancy – just halve them. When I next looked, he was painstakingly slicing them lengthwise. Made no difference to the dish, other than the chilli filling of the olives fell out but so what? It just illustrated to me that what is obvious to an experienced person is not at all clear to the inexperienced.
TD is a slightly different kettle of fish in that they still teach HE in her school. (TS had the option but firmly declined on the grounds that “I’m not gay” to which I replied “Is Gordon Ramsay gay d’you think? Or Jamie Oliver? Huh? Huh? ) And they even called it Food Tech so that boys wouldn’t think it was cissy, so there's no hope really. TD favours baking big time – perhaps this is a girly thing but the very mention of cupcakes and scraping out the bowl is likely to bring her sprinting into the kitchen.
But there is more to domestic bliss than cooking. Let’s try washing for example. TS is given to appearing in front of me with a pile of stinking sports kit in his arms and the demand “Mum, can you get this lot washed by Saturday?” When I mildly suggest that he could actually have a go at it himself, he has to sit down sharpish and put his head between his knees. And my status as “just like white noise, innit?” was confirmed recently when, blind to the Persil standing on top of the washing machine, he trots up with a bottle of Ace Laundry Bleach in one hand and a bottle of Flash floor cleaner in the other and the query “which one of these do I use for the washing?”