The Stare

I have an almost-10 year old. He’s lazy like his father and me. We aren’t the gung ho types who jump to it and proactively clean and get shit done. We get to it when we can’t find things and usually at the last minute. Sort of defeats the purpose of being a housewife I guess but my parents’ cleaning gene escaped me but I wasn’t about to let it escape my kid. Not entirely.

We’ve made a deal; once he gets up in the morning he has to make the bed. Properly. Of course that’s when hands start to hurt and the bedspread seems to be made of cement rather than cotton but I’ve decided to be firm. What am also being firm about is the extent of halfheartedness I’ll allow in the task.

Today he went around the bed like a puppy chasing its tail in trying to get the bedspread to stay on the bed evenly. To say it looked like one of those asymmetrical dresses that seem to be the rage, would be downplaying it. Half the bedspread was covering the floor and the throw pillows were thrown on the floor and living up to their name and there was a little man brushing his hands with accomplishment saying, “Done!”

But I have learnt one thing from my father if nothing else…’The Stare’. My father is the master of ‘The Stare’. His stare is so potent that I could feel it burning through a crowded room, aimed right at me like a smack on the head. Btw, the beauty of this is that you don’t have to actually smack or even raise your hands…you frown and let your face settle in its most disapproving pattern and let it rest. The victim…erm the target is drawn by the vibes given off said face and is browbeaten into doing your bidding. It’s magic at its best. It’s a thing of beauty that I hadn’t appreciated while it was being leveled at me.

Over the years the stare as been leveled at others found to be lacking, an errant boyfriend here and there, friends who’ve been dressed inappropriately or when he thought I was dressed like a hobo (aka too casually for college and the sobriety of Chaucer and Matthew Arnold). And the stare burns into you…it’s like a Dark Mark that hovers till you’ve ceded to its commands.

Today, after TO kept playing tag with the bedspread I leveled my stare at him and after a few studied shrugs of nonchalance and innocence, he said, “OK FINE!!!” and made the bed. It could still do with a few tugs here and there but at least the bed’s covered and not the floor.

See, they don’t tell you these things in the parenting books. This stuff’s invaluable! Of course the stare’s something every married man is familiar with. They are also more familiar with the menacing tones of the phrase, “We need to talk”…

I think I’ll just dole out the evilness today…mwaaahaaa

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