A Robot That Does Everything For You

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I don't recall Andrew wiping any butts in "Bicentennial Man." But I might have to watch it again to be sure.
I don’t recall Andrew wiping any butts in “Bicentennial Man.” But I might have to watch it again to be sure.

“Hey dad,” my five-year-old son said. “Wouldn’t it be cool if for your birthday, I got you a robot that would do everything for you?

“Like, you could say: ‘Hey robot! Clean those dishes,’ or ‘Hey robot! Pick up my toys,’ or ‘Hey robot! Give me a bath,’ and then the robot would just do it for you.”

I smiled. Funny kid.

“Yeah, bud. That would be amazing. I would love a robot just like that,” I said.

My desk is a disaster zone. Bills. Things that need filed. Photos.

A total mess.

A metaphor for my entire life from an organization standpoint.

I still have some Christmas decorations in my bedroom that need put away. It would literally take me less than two minutes. A few boxes sitting right next to the storage doors.

I have a pile of laundry by my dresser. It would literally take me less than 20 seconds to pick up the pile and carry it down the hall to a closet where a laundry basket lives for that very purpose.

Both my son’s bed and my bed are unmade. I had strep throat this past weekend and haven’t washed my sheets yet. It would literally take me three minutes to make both beds.

There’s a pretty disgusting fish tank sitting on my kitchen counter right now. I intend to clean it tonight, assuming I don’t drink myself into a nerve-wracked stupor.

Several months ago, a little girl who was at the house playing with my son dumped an entire bottle of water-treatment bacteria into the tank. (There were no fish in it. It’s the Tank of Death™.) The water got really cloudy and gross.

I just left it there to run every day until two nights ago when I took it downstairs to my kitchen.

It’s a freaking miracle we don’t have SARS or bubonic plague or scurvy.

I’m glad it’s there, because it makes the stack of dishes seem less unsightly.

Can robots get scurvy?

“Hey dad!” my son yelled from the bathroom. “Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a robot that would wipe our butts for us?”

He thinks things like that are hilarious and it’s totally my fault.

“A butt-wiping robot? I don’t know, man. That sounds dangerous,” I said.

It was bath time.

Every time we had a new task, it was: “Dad. Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a robot to do…” whatever it was we were doing. Scrubbing with soap. Washing and rinsing hair. Drying off. Brushing teeth. Combing hair.

A butt-wiping robot? This boy is displaying subtle signs of laziness.

I worried for a minute. I’m a worrier.

I stepped into the living room to shut off a couple lights before taking my son upstairs to tuck him in.

When I’d last left the room there were plastic and rubber reptiles and dinosaurs scattered everywhere.

He had picked up every single one without me asking and put them in one of his toy bins.

Good boy.

I worried less.

Today, I had to take my son to school for the very first time. Usually the day care lady manages this process.

Somehow, we didn’t have any of his shoes at the house. They were all at his mom’s or at the day care family’s.


Snow boots weren’t going to cut it. It was gym class day, he said.

I called my ex-wife. She was kind enough to leave her office and run home to get us a pair.

Thank you.

Maybe a robot could have made us a cool pair of shoes or run to my ex-wife’s house for us to pick them up.

I drove to the school.

When I was in school, things were simple. There was a building. And when you arrived at the building, you could just go inside of it.

Now, thanks to shitbags and psychos intent on harming children, there are all these rules preventing such convenience.

And it became obvious right away: I was doing it wrong.

I was waiting in a drop-off lane.

One lady two cars back was VERY disappointed with my choices. I could tell by her honking her horn.

She pulled out of line and drove up next to me. I thought she was going to say something to help point me in the right direction because clearly I looked like someone who didn’t know what he was doing.

I rolled down my window with a smile on my face eagerly awaiting her helpful advice.

“There’s a whole fucking parking lot right there, asshole! Why don’t you try parking in it?!?!?” she yelled, not very nicely.

And because I’m REALLY tough when I’m safe in my car and firing back at bitchy soccer moms, I was preparing to retort: “Yeah! Cool! Yell at me! I’ve never been here before, you mouth-breather! Thanks for the help!”

But I didn’t have the satisfaction, because she drove away like a coward after verbally abusing me.

“Why did that person yell at you, daddy?” my son asked.

“Because I’m parked in a very bad place and because she is a very bad person,” I said.

Maybe a robot could have gotten out of the Jeep and robo-punched her in her stupid face.

I am getting better.

I am.

At managing my life. The adjustment is a gradual one. And I’m a talented procrastinator even in the best of times.

I was joking with a few guys at the office about how I need to invite people over to motivate me to keep my house in tip-top shape.

“So THAT’s why you don’t have parties anymore,” one said.

There might even be a little truth there.

Another guy said all will fix itself once I have a woman back in my life again.

I half-snorted.

“I have enough trouble getting dates as it is,” I said. “Maybe I should throw in the all-enticing offer to help clean my house.”

That does sound nice, though. Right, single people?

Someone to talk to?

Someone to sit with?

Someone to wake up next to?

But maybe the kid’s onto something.

I wonder what Johnny 5’s up to these days?

"When you gotta go, don't squeeze the Charmin." Johnny 5 seems uniquely qualified for my son's unusual request.
“When you gotta go, don’t squeeze the Charmin.” Johnny 5 seems uniquely qualified for my son’s unusual request.

42 thoughts on “A Robot That Does Everything For You”

  1. Butt wiping robot made me literally laugh out loud- and I could hear those words coming out of a guy I dated a long time ago-it was something he for sure could have thought of & said (he died last year,but made me smile to think of how he would have loved that line) Clean up your house once and try to keep it that way- better for your son IMHO-and better for you! 🙂 great post -as always

    1. Some rooms look very clean.

      Yin and yang. Which is totally me.

      Thank you for your kindness. You’re way nicer than the parking-lot mom.

      1. Ha! I have my moments, but I would not unleash my wrath in the school parking lot!! I think it is appalling that she did that. Needed more coffee I guess

    1. I promise! My kitchen and bedrooms will be tip-top when I wake up tomorrow. This level of neglect is unusual even for me. It’s been a weird few days.


  2. Until recently, we had a Tank-of-Death too. Fortunately Erik liked some girl at school who wanted a free aquarium so he cleaned it and gave it to her. Ah, the wonderful motivational power of “like”!
    I am unfamiliar with Johnny 5, but I think you should hold out for a cuter model.
    Speaking of robots, coincidentally I took a “What Star Wars character are you?”quiz on FB the other day and I got C3PO….which everyone said was actually quite fitting!=( It’s House of Hufflepuff all over again. Sigh.

    1. The power of “like,” indeed.

      3PO. Solid robot choice.

      I thought about the one from Rocky that Uncle Pauly makes talk like a girl.

      I thought about the robot cleaning lady from The Jetsons.

      I thought about Terminators.

      In the end, Johnny 5 mad some sense to me.

      He’s from the “Short Circuit” movies. I liked them when I was a little kid which probably means they’re horrible.

      I had bad taste back then.

  3. I’d rather build Lego spacecraft with my kid than make the beds in the morning!
    I’d rather read him (or have him read me) three extra stories than make sure the kitchen is spotless every night.
    I’d often rather write, make things, play, dance, etc. than any number of chores that don’t get done… enough.

    You’re not alone, Matt. Parents everywhere halfass their chores.

    If only I had a ROBOT to help with them!!! At least I have a spouse who tries to help now.

    1. Hey. Just kicking around one five-year-old’s idea and illustrating why it doesn’t seem so bad at my house.

      Appreciate you trying to make me feel better about my irresponsibility!

  4. I think the fact that you’ve been sick means you are entitled to cut yourself a bit of slack about your housekeeping standards! Clearly you know what needs to be done but you just haven’t had the physical energy to do it.

  5. Butt-wiping robots? No thanks. I’ll let it handle the recycling, though!

    I’m living in a similar temporary unclean-ness. That’s the one advantage of living alone: nobody else will yell at you for it. In my case, that means it’ll actually get resolved sooner. I’m that petty.

  6. We all “let it go” once in a while, sometimes for a couple of days…sometimes much longer. I think what is important is making the choice to reign it all back in (as best as we can). Does that mean we should all run out and buy a butt-wiping robot? Novel idea (my son tips his hat to yours) but not necessarily necessary; sometimes the process we go through en route to the task completed is more needed than achieving the task itself. To the parking lot mom, as a woman I am embarrassed for my gender as this is an all too common occurrence, it is unacceptable to act like that in the presence of children (whether or not they are actually present, there’s no need for that on school grounds). I agree she likely needs a robo-punch (or a good lay, though that may not be all that kind or polite of me to say!) – hope you mend up soon 😉

    1. She was a very grouchy lady, that parking lot mom.

      Everything worked out in the end.

      But about that lay? It’s a small miracle someone mated with her already. In fact. There’s an above-average chance she was just a virgin nanny.

      Correction: A very mean virgin nanny.

      1. Ha ha ha ha ha, a virgin nanny! We can only but hope. I don’t understand how people can think its okay to speak/act like that in front of kids.

  7. That robot sounds pretty handy, but your story gave me an idea for another invention:

    Every car should be required to have a microphone installed near the drivers side window. If the microphone detects you yelling out the window at somebody, your car automatically turns off and won’t restart for five minutes. It’s a cooling off period. It also gives the person you yelled at a chance to come over and continue the discussion, rather than you speeding away.

    I think it would result in a lot more civility among drivers.

    1. This made me laugh out loud. Twice.

      Thank you so much for that. Great idea. I’m really disappointed that Bitchy Mom Lady got to just yell at me and drive away.

      Live and learn. Thanks for the comment!

  8. Ha, ha….oh, Matt, this is precious and hilarious all rolled up into one! But, I have to agree with your son, a robot to do “insert task here” would be much welcome in my book (scratch the butt wiping idea). Heck, I’ve been pining away for a simple dishwasher for the past 5 years, and by dishwasher I mean either another set of hands OR the machine-kind, lol. “Maybe a robot could have gotten out of the Jeep and robo-punched her in her stupid face.” My favorite line of this post! Hmmmmm, and I can think of a few folks who deserve the same fate, myself; I’d pick Real Steel’s Atom to do the job. 😉 Now, follow your kiddo’s example and clean up that mess! XOXO-Kasey

    1. It’s funny, I had designs on writing about how personal responsibility was a lesson I wanted to teach my son in this post, but it never really materialized.

      It just ended up being a bunch of silliness and full disclosure about the state of my house.


      He was so good picking up his toys without me asking. That made me happy. 🙂

  9. picking up after yourself or lack thereof, sounds like me. Some things would take me minutes, if not seconds. Putting away the notepad from my monthly budget. Putting away my meds, on the counter instead of being inside the kitchen cupboard where they are meant to be. Small random items on the kitchen counter in the corner. they all have a place, just dont get as far as putting them away. Clean laundry in the spare bedroom need to be folded and packed away. Beauty products in the bathroom ON the counter instead of in the cupboard or drawers. NOT making up my bed. Cardigans hanging on a hook OUTSIDE the closet instead of on a hanger IN the closet. Yes, it sounds all too familiar. You are not alone. It usually takes me being disgusted with myself before i get around to things. and usually only on a weekend where it ends up being so much that i work so hard and have lower back pain. i never learn

    1. I’m sorry we suffer from the same ailments. 🙂

      I’m not completely hopeless. I just tend to let things pile up and make the clean-up 10 times harder than it need be.

      1. I should be ashamed of myself. lol. im a woman. We’re supposed to like this cleaning crap, or at least hate things being messy that we’d rather clean than live in ‘filth’

  10. So I’ve read a few of your posts… and just couldn’t leave without saying that you rock. Love your style of just honest, strait-up storytelling.

  11. This is some excellent writing. I relate to the clutter/scurvy part of it, I am an awful housekeeper and should have hired an every-two-week cleaning service years ago. Saying I’d rather do it myself is only valid if I actually do it.

    1. This is hilarious. You’re so right about taking pride in doing things yourself.

      I say that, but then I just let things go to hell.

      Thanks for the laugh.

      Appreciate you stopping in here.

  12. I love your ability to be authentic. Through your words you become vulnerable and allow us to understand that you don’t have your life together.. (I’m terribly sorry if this comes off rude.. that’s not the intent at all). I think we have to remind ourselves that ‘it’s okay to not have all the answers’. The beautiful thing about being human is that we’re allowed to make mistakes; we’re allowed to fall short of expectations. Society has fed us these lies of ‘macho-ness’ and ‘onlylookoutforyourselfbecauseeveryoneelsewillscrewyouover’. So thank you. Thank you for being human 🙂

    oh and by the way.. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen it.. but, your whole ‘doing-it-wrong-in-the-parking-lot-thing’ reminded me of the scene from the movie: Mr. Mom.

    Keep learning; keep growing; keep being human.

    1. I’ve totally seen “Mr. Mom.”

      Thank you for taking time to say hi and a bunch of nice things. Appreciate it very much. 🙂

  13. okay, since both my daughter and my beds also remain unmade at the moment, and I too have a pile of laundry that would take me a few seconds to get to the hamper, yeah, I’m not going to say a word about that…but butt wiping robot? That just made me laugh out loud. Thanks for the laugh, I sorely needed it tonight.

    1. I really “get” his little five-year-old mind because we’re almost always on the same little-kid wavelength.

    1. You may be surprised to learn this, but I am not a robotics engineer.

      I can make you a very nice penne dish. Or a roasted chicken. Or something breakfasty.

      I cannot make you a robot. And I’m very, very sorry.

  14. … It hurt my OCD to read that. Lol. But a lovely post.
    I do have a question: why do people think a woman would make your life better? Women are hard work and would be creating a whole mess of their own. And they complain that you don’t do enough. And they move your stuff. Definitely go with the robot.
    Although the best I’ve seen aren’t ready to help you with the dishes- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aAHbwYsKRI


  15. I have often fantasized about having the exact same robot. You might as well have been describing my house in this post laundry, Christmas decorations, unmade beds and all (minus the Tank of Death, I put mine away after it claimed six aquatic life forms in two months but that was mostly because my four year old kept seeing the tank and eulogizing all the lost fish. Some of them were named after him, it was creepy.).

    Johnny 5 would be a way better candidate than C3PO due to his being more mellow & laid back. C3PO’s constant worrying would get on my nerves way too fast. R2D2 would be ideal if he had arms. I just don’t think his mechanical attachments would cut it but he’s just s damn efficient and snarky with all those unintelligible beeps and whistles. It’s all about the attitude.

    1. You know. It means a lot to me that you understand. On all fronts.

      Appreciate you putting so much thought into the robots!

      Off the top of my head, the “Bicentennial Man” robot makes the most sense to me.

      Two hundred years is good ROI no matter his much it costs.

      1. I have five kids and have been a sort of single parent for a year and a half (I’ll be an Officially Single Parent after Monday. Oh yeah, these are good times!) so your mess probably has nothing on mine.
        I’ve never actually seen Bicentennial Man so I cannot effectively rank that robot but is it really that good of an ROI if the robot outlives you by almost 150 years?

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Matt Fray

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