In our house, the words, “Did you take your medicine? How many times do you have to be reminded?” are heard at least once, if not more; spoken either by my mother or me, to my laidback dad. He always forgets to take his medication for blood pressure, despite repeated reminders.
A fly on the wall, in any home, would hear a woman’s voice say to a son, “Again you forgot to do your homework? How many times do you have to be told?”Or “How many times do I have to tell you? Drink your milk.” Or “Again you left your lunch box at school? Where is your mind all the time, in the air?”
If the fly moved to the neighbours’, it would hear the wife saying to her husband, “You didn’t get the plumber with you? So what did you do in the market all this while?” Or “How many times must I tell you to put your socks in the wash.. you wear the same thing every day and it stinks.” Or “What?
Your boss is coming for dinner and you forgot to call me?”
Blame it on men
Move over next door and the fly would overhear a young woman tell a man, “Oh god! The dishes are still piled in the sink..what did you do all day? Or “You stood me up. If you were not coming to the party, couldn’t you have called? Why didn’t you answer my phone? ”And so it goes. The women get the rap for being a nag, while men of all ages go through life blissfully with smelly socks, dirty dishes piled up in the sink, food rotting in the refrigerator, bills unpaid, dripping taps, medication ignored, belongings left behind and appointments forgotten.
The problem is that no one would blame the men for it. It would always be, “What kind of mother are you? Your kid doesn’t do his homework. What kind of wife lets her husband out wearing a pair of unwashed socks? What kind of woman ignores her husband’s health? What kind of homemaker lets the tap drip for days?”
It’s a no-win situation for women. Men seldom grow up from grubby boys with scraped knees, reaching out to eat with filthy hands, while a female voice shrieks, “How many times do I have to tell you to wash your hands before touching food? ”Then to the man, “You never say anything and your son is growing up to be a junglee.” Who’s the winner? And most women grow up to be like their mothers, because most men (unless they suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder) remain little boys. Why do little girls always grow up and go out smelling nice, always drink their juice, never land up in school in mismatched socks or without ironing their shirts? Maybe vanity is hard-wired into them. And also maybe because they have to do the remembering for two, so their memory cells have evolved more.
Like men, why can’t women understand that dishes piled up in the sink, clothes strewn on the floor or dripping taps are not the end of the world? Maybe they do, they are just ducking the inevitable with a, “What kind of...”barb. If the choice is between nag and slack, the nag is a clear winner.