April's Real Blog

Friday, July 04, 2008

Cleaning rooms and pouring milk in 1979

Mike found another reason 2 share a story from 1979:

Formerly little sis. Just the other day with my kids, I was pouring milk from a milk bag, when they asked me how it was that I learned to do that. Well, April, after having told my children so many stories from 1979, I was surprised that they would actually ask for one. I said, “Well, kids, to answer your question, I will have to tell you another story from 1979.” My children groaned, but allowed me to go ahead. This is the story I told:

Back in 1979, our mother was notorious for cleaning my room and Elizabeth’s room, because she was very fastidious and she didn’t trust anyone else to clean the rooms like she wanted them to be cleaned. By and large we stayed out of her way when she was in a cleaning mood. She would pick up my Super Teddy sans cape, and would mutter to herself “If women resent their position, they have only themselves to blame.”

My children immediately said, “What does that mean Daddy?” I said, “Well kids, back in 1979, there were these things called feminists. They would like to say things which got women confused, like whether or not it was better to have a job or to be a mommy to be both. What it means is that if you didn’t want to be a mommy or a worker or both of those things; then you didn’t have to. And if you were a mommy or a worker or both of those things, and you didn’t want to be, it was your own fault, because you picked it in the first place.” My daughter said, “Did you pick to be a daddy, ‘cause mommy says you didn’t?” I replied, “Mommy’s right. But these things only apply to girls. Boys have to be both a worker and a daddy.”

I continued on, “Then my mother would sometimes mutter, ‘If men were only taught as boys to do things for themselves…this problem wouldn’t exist…’” My son said, “Huh?” I said, “Exactly! This was confusing to me too, when I was 5 years old. But then an amazing thing happened to me that made it all clear.” My children said, “What?” I said, “I went to my mother and said, ‘Hey, mom…could you get me a glass of milk?” and she said, “Sure, Mike…as soon as I get your room cleaned up.” This was basically the same thing as saying, “No”. I thought it might mean that she wanted me to clean my room; but she was in a cleaning mood, so I knew it meant for me to get out of the way and get the milk myself.

I had never gotten milk by myself, because I was afraid of the milk bags. I had been my entire life, all 5 years of it. But then, thanks to my mom, I was going to have to get a glass of milk by myself. This is how you do it:” and I demonstrated with a milk bag, a milk jug and a pair of scissors.

Step 1: Put milk bag into the milk jug.
Step 2: Snip the corner of the bag by holding the very corner and using scissors
Step 3: Pour the milk into the glass.
Step 4: Drink milk.

My kids were amazed. I said, “And that, children, is how to do that, learned all by myself; because mom was busy cleaning my room.”

Michael Patterson
So, Mike, did U ever learn 2 clean yr own room, or did U just let that B Dee's job once U got married?

Happy 4th of July 2 my U.S.A. readers!


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  • At 9:30 AM, OpenID patrickrsghost said…

    I figured your mom was trying to guilt Mike into either saying "why don't you rest and I'll finish cleaning my room" or else get the milk himself.

    I remember when I was 5 or 6 my parents would leave a bowl of cereal and a glass of milk in the fridge, or a sandwich and a glass of milk, mainly because both my parents worked late shifts and when I'd get up early on Saturday mornings to watch Pinwheel (an old kids' show that used to come on the kids' channel Nickelodeon...was originally from Canada), I wouldn't have to wake them up to pour me a bowl of cereal or make any kind of breakfast. I'd pour the milk over my cereal and eat it, or else just eat the sandwich and drink my milk.

    For our July 4th holiday we plan to be grilling hamburgers. Hopefully I won't near-burn them like your dad or Mike does. My dad has given up on grilling so I will be the Master of Grillamonies (gah! Bad pun! Unclean! Unclean!). I'm afraid we will turn into Pattersons and CHOMP CHOMP SMACK SMACK GULP BURP SNARF SMACK CHEW CHEW CHOMP down those burgers. And maybe some hotdogs as well.

  • At 10:15 AM, Blogger April Patterson said…

    my 'rents were never good @ being practical and planning things 4 lil kids 2 do 4 themselves. that's not a surprise, eh?

    hope u have a fun 4th, patrickrsghost!


  • At 11:28 AM, Anonymous michael patterson said…


    Formerly little sis. You asked if I ever learned to clean my own room, and the answer is yes. Don’t be silly. We had the same mom. We had to learn to clean. I certainly keep the room where I do my writing clean, although possibly not to Mom’s standards, but it is clean enough for me to write in.

    Michael Patterson

  • At 12:05 PM, Anonymous jeremy jones said…

    april, speakin’ of cleanin’ my room, havin’ my step-sis in my room all the tyme while she is outa uni iz gettin’ 2b a pain. i hafta keep the basement where i sleep while she’s outa uni clean & sparkly, but she leaves junk all ovah my room. my mom is like, “well, jeremy. she just wuzn’t raised the same way u were.” thass a nice way of sayin’ “my mom didn’t wunt me 2 end up like my dad, so she made sure she taught me 2 do things diff.” i think it wuz 1 of the reasns i wuz so mad @my dad wen i wuz little. none of the othah guyz i knew in skool hadda do that kind of stuff. they r all, “u don’t needta learn 2 clean. find a childhood sweetheart who will cook, clean & take care of ur kids 4u.”

    on the othah hand, now i am oldah, that kinda trainin’ haz its uses. i’ve been workin’ on ur basement space in ur house, while u’ve been doin’ the vet job this week, & i think wen u come home 2day, u will definitely like it. i’m not gonna say 4 sure, cuz it iz ur decision, but i think i’m gonna have everythin’ done u wunted by the tyme u get back frum work. if u agree, we can prolly move ur stuff down there. OR, az u sed, u mite wanna leave sum stuff in ur old room, just so ur ‘rents still think thass where u stay, but i dunno. ur niece & nephew r all in that room, wen ur mom’s takin’ care of them; so if u leave stuff, u prolly only wanna leave stuff they can trash. thass ur decision.

    i nevah thot i cud work on this project w/o ur ‘rents knowin’ & of course, we haven’t mentioned it on ur blog, in case ur bro or ur sis decided 2 leak it 2 ur ‘rents; but ur ‘rents r like not innerested in this @all. wedding, trains, & mike in 1979 r all they think ‘bout. i have walked wood & nailz & that decorative tile u wunted rite by ur dad w/o him evn blinkin’.

    neway, i hope u like it. i luv u.

  • At 12:38 PM, Blogger April Patterson said…

    jeremy, i m sure it's gonna b awesum. u r so cube, jeremy! <3 <3 <3

    i m thinking i shd leave sum stuff in my room so my mom doesn't decide 2 turn it in2 a sewing room. 2 not sew in.


  • At 1:03 PM, Blogger howard said…


    Your mom’s statement from 1979 “If men were only taught as boys to do things for themselves…this problem wouldn’t exist…” is a little odd. However, when you consider that the story had to do with how she was doing the opposite of the way she was thinking, it makes a little more sense with the way things are in Milborough.

    Now that my daughter is pre-engaged to Paul Mayes, she is required to take a pre-engagement class this summer called, “The Art of Being a Wife: Men Can’t Do Things for Themselves, so You Will Have To”

    Now, speaking as a man who does the cooking and quite a bit of the cleaning for my family, I initially found the idea of such a course to be repugnant. However, my daughter is quite taken with Paul Mayes, and she does have a strong desire to remain in Milborough; so I have grown to think of the class as an acclimation to a different sort of culture. After all, if she were living in her mother, Beatrice’s home country of Argentina, she would be more like Cristina Fernández, president of Argentina, beautiful and powerful. Argentine women are very proud of their beauty and the power it get them. If my daughter lived there, then she would need a different course. Argentine living for women is almost the exact opposite way of living than here in Milborough.

    I looked over the course materials and there are some things my daughter might find useful here.

    Day 1: How to Clean and Make Your Husband Feel Guilty at the Same Time
    Day 2: When Your Husband Tries to Help: Little Tips to Make Him Feel Stupid
    Day 3: How to Get Your Husband to Think Sweatpants are Sexy
    Day 4: The Proper Way to Throw Coffee Cups to Avoid Permanent Brain Damage
    Day 5: How to Get Your Way By Screaming
    Day 6: How to Move From Being Lovers to Friends, Parents, Business Partners, Roommates, Co-workers

    Bad advice for most little girls, but not too bad, if you want to get along in Milborough. By the way, the fact I do the cooking in my house is a little secret that my wife would prefer you not tell other women in Milborough.

    Howard Bunt

  • At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Dawn said…

    Hey April, maybe you can help me out. How come in that link to family photos Patricksrghost posted, everyone looks so gobsmacked? Even your dad, and shouldn't be, like, pleasantly surprised about the nice compliment?

    Your family sure is weird sometimes!

  • At 2:37 PM, Blogger April Patterson said…

    howard, yr secret is safe w/me. i think that "day 4" lesson mite b in there cuz my mom caused brain damage 2 my dad and he's now an xxample ppl want 2 avoid. i m sooooo glad i plan 2 leave mboro 4evs!

    dawn, my fam is always looking gobsmacked. it's like their automatic reaction 2 almost everything. and dad didn't take what i sed as a compliment cuz those burgers were burned. notice merrie spitting out a mouthful of it. i'm so glad i'm vegan now!


  • At 3:04 PM, OpenID patrickrsghost said…

    Luckily I didn't burn them like Mike or your dad does. Both my parents loved them. I have enough to take to work for lunch for a whole week.

  • At 6:48 PM, Anonymous jeremy jones said…

    april, i can’t b-lieve it. weeks of workin’ on ur room & ur mom & dad r like not payin’ ne attention & then the moment i am done & we r movin’ ur stuff, i walk in on ur mom in the large, cast-iron clawfoot bathtub in ur washroom downstairs. then u were like, “mom. wut ru doin’ in my washroom in my tub?” & ur mom is like, “if women resent their position, they have only themselves 2 blame.” & then u were like, “but jeremy & spent weeks gettin’ my place reddy. it’s been ovah a year since we moved in & all dad duz is play w/hiz trainz.” & ur mom sed, “if men were only taught as boys 2 do things for themselves, so u didn’t hafta help jeremy get the place reddy, then this problem wouldn’t exist.” then u sed, “that duzn’t make ne sense.”

    ur mom sed, “it’s duzn’t hafta. the clawfoot bathtub wuz my idea. u can check my august, 2007 monthly letter. & i hafta say it’s f8 this place looks like a gr8 rental property 4 ne kids who r gonna stay in mboro 4 university 2 rent durin’ the year. & just in case that izn’t u, april, then the room will still b available wen u come home during breaks. the price of the renovationz wuz certainly rite.” then u sed, “u tricked me mom. u knew if dad w8ed 2 long 2 fix up this place i wud do it myself & it wudn’t cost u nethin’. in fact, i think u did the same thing 2 me wen i fixed up my room ovah on sharon park drive w/my own money.” ur mom sed, “no tricks. i’m happy 2 hand the reinz of this room ovah 2 the next generation, az long az i still own the horses, meanin’ this room.”

    i sed, “so april can use the room while she’z here?” & ur mom sed, “of course, but i wud like 2 take a bubble bath in this bathtub wen i wunt, since it wuz my idea.” i sed, “i know just how u feel. i wuz feelin’ like a bath myself. how ‘bout u april?” & u gave me a gobsmacked look & sed, “but jeremy. my mom’s in the bath.” & i sed, “well, it think the tub is big enuff 4 three peeps.” & u sed, “but jeremy. i don’t wanna take a bath w/my mom in the tub.” & i sed, “y not? she’s handed ovah the reins 2u.” so then u finally got it & sed, “oh, rite. thass soundz like a gr8 idea.” neway, i took off my shirt & u took off ur socks & that got ur mom outa the tub & will prolly make her think twice ‘bout gettin’ in ur tub, while ur around neway.

    so, out 2nite 2 let u blow off a little steam. i thot ur mom wuzn’t gonna let us go, ‘till we showed in the paper that hancock wuz a movie & not sum kinda sex act.

  • At 7:50 PM, Blogger April Patterson said…

    jeremy, that was fast thinking! it was genius how u scared off mom w/that bath fakeout. tho now that i think of it, mayB we shd take a bath after the movie. w/out my mom of course!


    p.s. u did an amazing job on the basement reno!!!

  • At 4:05 AM, Anonymous michael patterson said…


    Formerly little sis. I was in the middle of my writing today, when my children came into my sacred writing area of retreat and asked me a question. Normally, if they do this and they are not obviously bleeding, I ignore them until they go away. However, on this occasion they were asking a question of moral importance, so I decided it was important to stop my writing to listen to their question. I said, “What is your question again?” My daughter said, “For the 10th time Daddy, Gramma Elly took a case of food out of the back of Mr. Singh’s store and she didn’t pay for it. Isn’t that wrong?”

    I said, “I want you to know that you can’t go taking food from someone’s store—it’s very wrong. However, in the case of Mr. Singh’s store, there are few good reasons why we can take from there. First of all, we’ve taken food from Mr. Singh’s store before.” My kids said, “We did?” And then I regaled my kids with the story about your taking food from Mr. Singh when you were younger and how you eventually paid him back, so it was all right you took the food in the first place. I would say more about this story, but it did not happen in 1979.

    I said, “Second of all, there are many people who are going to make contributions to your Auntie Elizabeth and future Uncle Anthony’s wedding. What you saw was probably your Gramma Elly taking food for the wedding.”

    Then I continued, “In fact, children, I have a story from 1979 when I learned all about this.” My children groaned, and this is the story I told them:

    Once when I was little, we had a neighbour named Mrs. Baird. She had a garden of prize-winning flowers. One day when my mom, your Gramma Elly, was not feeling good, I picked some of the flowers to give to her to make her feel better. She said, “Flowers! –Thank you, Michael!—Where did you find them?” I said, “Well, I sort of …er…got them from Mrs. Baird’s place.” I think mom thought I might have gotten them from some public park or a botanical garden or something like that. She said to me, “You can’t go taking flowers from people’s gardens, Honey---It’s very wrong. You must NEVER do it again! But if you do---try and leave on the stem.” I said to my kids, "Do you understand the meaning behind my story from 1979?"

    My son said, “Don’t eat stem!” My daughter said, “It’s OK to steal!! Yay!!” I said, “No! No! No! Mrs. Baird had given us flowers before for me to give to Gramma Elly when she wasn’t feeling good. That’s why Gramma Elly knew it was OK for me to do it again.” My daughter said, “You left that part out.” I said, “Goodness. Read between the lines.” My daughter said, “OK. Gramma Elly got pastries for Auntie Liz’s wedding. Yay!!” My son went “Yay! Pastries!!” also.

    Sometimes it can be difficult to tell morality stories to young children.

    Michael Patterson


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