Take today for example. It was a very busy day, running around shopping for Chanukah gifts. After school, I took Wild Thing and Moose to the doctor for WT’s check-up. Then, we stopped at Sam’s Club to drop off and pick up prescriptions, after which we sped home. I started an elaborate dinner of skirt steak, grilled peppers and onions, chimichurri sauce, and guacamole and fed Moose an early dinner before basketball practice. All three boys helped tremendously in preparing dinner: they cut; they measured; they mixed, they washed; they dried; they cleaned up; Wizard ran the dishwasher, and WT vacuumed. By the time I left for book club, dinner was in the warming oven, and the kitchen was clean. Pretty damned good for a dinner I did not even eat.
I stroll back in the house at 10:30 p.m. after an interesting book discussion and a long chat with Lina. The kitchen is still clean, and WineGuy is sitting at the table reading a book. “How did it go tonight?” I inquired. “It was a disaster,” WG groused. “What happened? Wizard and WT were watching a little TV when I left.” In a nutshell, the boys were overtired, overhungry (?) and yelling out of control. Each and every one of them. Instead of diffusing the situation, WG made matters worse by criticizing Wizard about chewing his fingers and berating Moose for shredding his napkin. Which they, individually, do every day. No one ate much dinner. Wizard refused to wash dishes. WT walked away, and Moose was sent to bed. WG had to put a ton of food away and clean the kitchen. He did not recognize or even appreciate how hard the boys worked to help prepare dinner. When I explained that to WG, he was hardly interested.
Did he thank me for making a nice dinner for him and the boys? No. WG complained that I made too much food. WG complained that I made too nice of a dinner on a night I would not be home. WG complained that he had to clean the kitchen. WG complained that no one helped him. WG complained that the boys’ rooms were a mess. (OK, I shirked my hausfrau duties on that one.) WG complained that the boys yelled all night. When I asked what he did to diffuse the situation, WG answered, “Nothing, I couldn’t wait to get rid of them.” Great, honey, thanks for teaching them coping skills. Not. I did not dare point out to WG that he has trouble maintaining calm here every time I go out at night. I did mention that I have 2 meetings this week, a holiday party, a dress rehearsal, and a concert this week, and that I have a dress rehearsal and seven concerts next week. “What would you like me to do? Cancel all my obligations so I can stay home and police the kids?” I inquired. “No, this isn’t about you,” WG retorted. REALLY? I plan the menus. I shop for the food. I cook the food. I clean up as I cook — unlike his prodigal sister. It is absolutely about me.
Maybe I need to write another Postcard From The Zone.
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These boys are our children, not our slaves. Yes, they should keep their rooms and themselves clean. However, they’re boys; pick one or the other. They went to school all day, ran errands all afternoon, and helped me cook dinner all late afternoon. Engage them to help you clean up after dinner, instead of issuing edicts. Engage yourself to get your nose out of the damn newspaper and your not-insubstantial backside out of that chair. Go out and play with your kids. Teach them how to calm themselves down, and quit picking on every G-d damned little thing. IOW, pick your battles.
Your loving wife,
P.S. There is a giant crater in the middle of our 17 year-old mattress. I want a new bed for my birthday next week . . . and a Bose sound dock. Because I’m worth it.