Like all responsible parents, I've waited until my
kids are taller than me and driving before giving them chores.
The other day I told my newly teenage boy to take out the
trash. He asked me how much. I thought about it and told him I'd
give him five bucks to take out the trash and the mountain of diet
coke cans in his mom's office. He texted friends and outsourced it
The problem was clear: my childhood chores (retread the
tractor, build a three-acre windbreak, terraform ...) were too Mark
Twain for today's teenage technophiles. They needed an upgrade. So
I gave my kids 21st century busy work. I present: Chores
Prune the DVR. I can't go
five minutes into a show without the DVR's little lozenge of
holy-crap popping up to let me know it's about to switch over to
"Haunted Toolsheds of America" in five, four, three, two-FRAAK! It
doesn't matter if I hit cancel because 50 other shows are lined up
on the ever-growing and gangly tree of DVR priority. I make Junior
prune everything back to NEW ONLY. Maybe then I can watch "Extreme
Lay-Z-Boy" for five minutes straight.
Play Dad's character in "Call of Duty 4" to jack
him up a few levels. I came late to video
gaming. I mean, OK, no I didn't. I admit I spent an ungodly amount
of time playing Starcastle, but I eventually dropped it all when I
discovered girls. Today I just don't have the necessary skills.
Today's games are all about team building, communication and
multitasking. They're like a management seminar you can play. My
son is so good at first person shooter games, he gets invited to
play BETA versions. All I know is occasionally I'll hear his
machine cry out "Excellent Kill!" and in the other room, I'll
silently fist pump and whisper "That's my boy!"
Click the ads on Dad's blog.
Don't look at me like that. It's legal.
Tend my crops in Farmville.
I didn't want to become a Farmvillager but I accidentally
clicked on a picture of a (chicken) and found myself on the ol'
virtual homestead hoeing a row of (corn) and couldn't stop. Now
crops need water, I have to get my (tractor) fixed, and Maw needs
her rocker re-caned. I hate this game. I can't spend more than two
minutes as a virtual yokel before I want to run away to (New York)
and become an (actor). But I need those stupid rewards to beat my
(friends) on Facebook, so I send Junior out into the (fields) so I
can sport my own CHRIS JUST FOUND AN ABANDONED COAL MINE!
Tweet. My publisher told me
to Tweet my deets. I don't know what that means so I just added it
to the chore chart. I told my daughter to just post quotes from
famous writers. This worked out until I found out her idea of
famous was anything from "Twilight" and "The Devil Wears
Edit my Wikipedia page. I
don't know who I teed off, but someone keeps editing my Wikipedia
occupation to "Monkey Wrangler." If I ever catch the guy, I'm gonna
unfriend him on Facebook. Until then, it's costing me a fortune to
keep paying Junior to fix it.
Facebook maintenance. I have
something like 890 friends on Facebook that I can't possibly keep
up with. I pay my daughter to post canned responses to all my
friends' urgent postings of "sitting in Starbucks" or "what's up
with Fringe?" She can post "OMG LOL! Wasn't that in 'The Big
Lebowski?'" and "You Go Girl and/or Dude!"
Maybe my kids won't know how to mow grass, prune a hedge
or change a tire, but they're learning real-world skills-and I can
put their allowance on PayPal.
Christopher lives in Chicago with his wife and kids and can also be found at deathbychildren.com.
See more of Christopher's stories here.
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