21st Century Chore Chart

Like all responsible parents, I’ve waited until my kids are taller than me and driving themselves to school before giving them chores.

The other day I told my newly teened 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 spent Diet Coke cartons in his mom’s office. He texted friends and outsourced it for $2.75.

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 2.0.

Prune the DVR.

I can’t go five minutes into a T.V. show without the DVR’s little lozenge of holy-crap popping up to let me know it’s about to switch over to “Haunted Tool Sheds 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, 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 in 1981, but I dropped the controllers when I discovered girls.  Today’s games are all about teambuilding, 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 of—look I don’t even know what it means. 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 ole’ 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! update.


My publisher told me to Tweet my deets. I don’t know what that means so I just added it to the chore chart and 10 minutes later my daughter walks out of her room and asks me what kind of cerebral damage I had incurred from sitting on the couch and making up ridiculous chores. I said 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 Prada.”

Edit my Wikipedia page.

I don’t know whom 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 go through and 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. Find more from Chris at deathbychildren.com.

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