Music lesson

Really enjoyable music lesson this afternoon.  The class has several lively boys in it, who aren’t that easy to keep in hand – it’s all right when they’re under the teacher’s eye, but when they go off into small groups to do practical work, their focus can wander.  Now, I like rascals and get on pretty well with young lads  – they’re no pushover, but they’re young enough to rather appreciate being helped, maybe even slightly mothered – no way for a teacher to teach, but I’m not one.  I had a breakthrough a few weeks ago with one boy who said, with an air of slight surprise, that he’d really enjoyed the lesson and if you work hard you get a lot out of it.  And today again, I spent some time coaching him and he did really well.  His partner (they were working in pairs) took a bit more effort, but he mastered the work too.  Then I went on to a couple of girls, then another boy, took a few minutes to listen to and praise yet another boy, who can never resist acting to an audience but had been put on his own and did very well – it was nothing spectacular, but the lesson went well, they were praised by the teacher and I felt I’d helped.  I’m always patient and good humoured, very ready to praise but extremely persistent and insist on it being done right.

I’ve been thinking about domesticity, particularly in view of Blue Witch’s comments.  I agree that both parties in a marriage should be able to cook – and housekeep, pay bills and so on – but I’m not sure that it’s the wife’s fault if she doesn’t teach her husband – it may be that he simply doesn’t want to learn.  One tends to have a general division of labour and, even if they start doing things together it’s likely that, as time goes by, the one with greater aptitude takes over.  Although I know a number of young women who aren’t good at cooking and say in explanation that, because their mother was a good cook, they never learnt.  This seems odd to me.  It was because my parents were good cooks that they wanted to teach me, and I think this was general at the time.  It was absolutely normal for me and my sister to be given jobs in preparation for meals, even if it was just podding peas.

When my children were young, I did most of the day-to-day housework, but once every few weeks I decided the whole house needed a good clean and made a list.  This was produced on a Saturday morning and everyone was expected to devote two hours to cleaning.  Each person chose a job, did it, ticked it off and picked another one until time was up.

Ro always chose to clean the bathroom and loos, even as a small boy.  In later years I asked him about that and he said that no one else ever did and he thought it would be fair to me, who normally did the job.  Al always took on the kitchen and spent the entire two hours scrubbing it meticulously.  Their father normally cleared up the mess he’d made, which took quite a while, but was also good at polishing wood floors.  Weeza did general cleaning, sitting room, bedrooms and so on, and I did what no one else chose.

Then the cooking – my children have always been good cooks.  One summer – I’m sure I’ve blogged this before, sorry – I decreed that, for the school holidays, we’d have a five-day rota and each of us take it in turn to cook.  Ro was only about five at the time but he took his turn, with a bit of help (though scrambled egg on toast was well within his capabilities and perfectly acceptable, with vegetables or a salad) and it was a really pleasant change for me, even though I did the shopping and helped out where required and it wasn’t much less work.  Ro now does most of the cooking at home, by the way.  Everyone else did very well – the older two were in their early teens so well able to manage and the Sage probably chose to barbecue steaks and sausages, which went down well.

Anyway, tomorrow I’ll be babysitting Gus and we’ll meet up with Dilly and Hay.  We’re hoping for fine weather, but will go to Norwich Castle if it’s wet.

11 comments on “Music lesson

  1. mig

    That made me laugh, several times – my mother was a good cook but she really didn’t want me getting underfoot in the kitchen unless I was prepared to do the boring stuff. I wasn’t. 🙂 You can lead the child to the onions but you probably can’t make it chop finely!
    I suppose not everyone is good at teaching (husbands to cook, housekeep, etc – I’m not, husband taught himself to cook)

  2. Z

    There was no option about doing the boring stuff, my mother held frequent dinner parties and expected us to help get ready for them.

    And tomorrow’s post is writing itself in my head as I type. Thank you, darling.

  3. Indigo Roth

    Hey Z! Indigo here from BLOGGERS. I must confess my mother is a terrific cook, but likes her kitchen to herself until washing up time. I never took much of an interest until I went to university. Yes, a real eye-opener. Along with laundry, cleaning and everything else! By the way, lovely wisteria and an awesome chimney there! See you again, Indigo

  4. Z

    Hi, Indigo – I did warn you it was a dull post today! My younger son really took up cookery at university, he used to phone me asking for ideas when he’d bought a tuna steak or something like that and then send a picture of the finished dish. Not that he was odd in any other way.

  5. Tim

    My mother was a very good cook but, she confessed later, hated doing it. She was brought up to the notion of duty, I think. About which I’m now thinking.

    Ro and Al will be welcome here anytime if they want to indulge their domestic cleansing fetishes…

  6. 63mago

    That is it exactly: Make them responsible for a task, enable them to do this task, create the sense of achievement. And NEVER ask for something to be done yerself could not do.
    And it’s important to insist on how tings are done – only who is in command of rules can brake them, be it cooking or leading a division.
    And somewhere there art is buried.

  7. Z

    I did get fed up with the obligation of it, day after day, but I’ve always liked to cook. I daresay your mother had high standards and, since she had to do it, chose to do it well.

    I get someone in when the drain has to be rodded out, I admit, Mago. There are a few jobs I’m not willing to do.

  8. Mike and Ann

    Do you think that men who cook are best at savoury dishes but fall down over puddings? Some yeas ago, when Ann was working as a Ward Sister, and I was self employed, if she was working an early shift, she’d cook the hot meal of the day, but if she was working lates, I’d cook. I soon found there were half a dozen dishes I could do well (the children who were then well into their teens would always clear their plates of any sort of stew or casserole then come back for more). But the only pudding I could make well was a Yorkshire one. Still, even that, if served with a slice of lemon and a bowl of muscovado sugar is still ………a pudding.

  9. Liz

    My Mum is a good cook, as are both my aunts and so were both my grandmothers. We like food in our family and when we were children, we always wanted to be in the kitchen because that is where Mum was. My brother and his wife mostly share the cooking and if they are doing a big meal, she does the main and my brother does the pudding. He makes a particularly fine crumble. He also bakes and fancy cakes at his children’s birthday parties area always made by him.

    I do most of the cooking in our house because… well, because I always have I suppose. Even when I lived alone I still cooked myself proper meals. I like cooking. If I can’t be bothered to make a meal myself, Sir Bruin is more likely to send out for something than cook himself, although he does occasionally do a rather nice tuna pasta. I understand his mother was a terrible cook so maybe that is why he is a bit kitchen-phobic.

    As for housework, when I was a child, I was responsible for cleaning my own bedroom (I had a lot of ornaments to dust) and my brothers and I took it in turns to dry up the dishes after meals. In my late teens/early 20s, I took over one of the two evenings each week when the washing machine came out of its cubby hole. My Mum still had a twin tub washing machine then so there was a little more effort involved than using an automatic. I still remember cursing the spin dryer as I tried to pack it so that it would actually spin instead of making a horrible knocking noise.

  10. Z

    Russell cooks perfectly acceptably, Mike, but he never uses a recipe. To cook a cake or many puddings, one has to follow the rules to get the proportions right. Could that be it?

    When my father bought a twin tub, my mother refused to use it (previously, the laundry had cost a fortune!). So he did the washing from then on. He quite enjoyed it, I remember him standing there with his long wooden tongs, fishing items out of the first tub and into the spin dryer.

  11. Mike and Ann

    I think you’ve hit it Zoe. When I cook I tend to taste and adjust as I go along. I quite see that you need to adhere fairly strictly to the recipe for cakes and puddings.


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