The Tinker Toy Robot in question, dubbed The Evil Paulbot, who commands ol' Dad to do numerous household chores in the Young Master's absence this week.
The Young Master and Grand Duchess are away for 10 days visiting grandparents. Yours truly is on his own with the cats and fish. Besides reading late into the night, taking long walks around the neighborhood, and painting some toy soldiers, I've been taking a few photographs for The Young Master, which I've emailed to him since they took off last Friday.
The joke here is that eight-year old Young Master feels put upon by the addition of one quick daily chore, which he is expected to take care of five days a week right after breakfast, feeding the cats and fish, and brushing his teeth. These chores, which are printed on a list taped to the refrigerator door in the kitchen, include the following:
Monday -- Bring his laundry basket of dirty clothes to the washing machine for Dad to wash. Help put away folded clothes and hang other items in bedroom closet later in the day.
Tuesday -- Empty the three bathroom trashcans and put new plastic liners in place.
Wednesday -- Swiffer the floors in the entry hall, kitchen, and breakfast nook.
Thursday -- Straighten the bookshelves in his bedroom and neatly replace any books left on floor.
Friday -- Straighten, pick up, and dust the TV room.
Saturday and Sunday -- Free. No chores.
This routine has gone pretty well during the last month that The Young Master has been on his summer vacation from school. However, I have been informed by my son a number of times that I am a mean father. It's always hard to keep a straight face during these moments when I have to reexplain that he is old enough now to help us keep the house in order and to help Mom and Dad by being responsible for these very small tasks.
While largely cooperative, The Young Master has responded by creating many drawings of a mean father stick figure (in glasses like I wear mind you) with a bullwhip in one hand and pointing with the other to some arduous, smelly, sweaty task that he wants the small boy in all of these pictures to complete. The boy invariably has his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, X'es where his eyes should be, and is hunched over with a 500-pound of cat litter, kitchen garbage, or similar on his back.
These drawings are surprisingly good in some case and have produced much laughter in the home since the Young Master finished school in mid-June. The daily chores narrative has been extended to include additional drawings of, and the construction of two Tinker Toy robots: The Evil Dadbot and. . . The Paulbot. The latter, pictured above, has been left sitting in a chair in our library to keep me busy and in line this week while The Young Master and Grand Duchess are away. So far, I've been commanded by The Evil Paulbot to perform 1001 chores around the house. No doubt, there will be a million more before wife and child return next week.
The Evil Paulbot has spoken! Vacuuming the first floor of the house exhausted yours truly this morning. Navy knit polo shirt, faded green chino shorts, and worn leather dock-siders complete today's attire.
Yesterday's casual wear included the fairly typical Madras shirt, some old, worn khaki shorts, and the ever-present Sperry dock-siders. These kinds of summer clothes, derided by some, are simply a variation on the kind of things that my father, maternal grandfather, various uncles, and first cousins of my mother wore during summer weekends and/or on the Chesapeake Bay or the Carolina Coast where we vacationed together during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, three and sometimes four generations sprawled around one house and occasionally between two if there were enough of us present. Old family photographs, slides, Super 8mm films, and a few videos show that similar attire was also worn by various male members of the clan during the late 1940s, 50s, and 60s. We won't talk about the dark knee-length dress socks that Great Uncle Zeb wore with Bermuda shorts and leather oxfords.