Oh, yes, let’s talk about equality. All’s fair in love and Freaky Fortnight, but Susan is now 0 for 8 on dinner and bath. If this had happened in real life, I’d be paying my debts in evening-long foot rubs.
I haven’t been as zealous at guarding my time as Susan. In our normal lives, she squeezes in work on the weekends, goes for the occasional run in the morning, and will do reporting calls in the evening while I watch the kids. (Here’s a fun test to try at home: Does exercise time count as work time or free time?) She gets annoyed if dirty dishes cause her to lose 20 minutes when the babysitter has arrived. Now I can see why. In the Platonic form of our life, Susan has a few hours to work. But when one of our boys gets sick or there is a doctor’s appointment or any other little thing, she’s the one who takes the fall. Her non-kid time is always provisional and under threat.
During my free time, I read some of your mail. It seems I may have written too hastily about boys being more difficult than girls. In the spirit of instant feedback, let me share this refinement on the subject from my friend Carlo:
The main difference between raising girls and boys, for my money, is that these days girls are pretty good at being boys (as well as murderously good at being girls) but boys, while they’re still really good at being boys, really aren’t very good at being girls (despite recent advances in the area of obsessing over body image, etc.). You can get your middle-childhood-aged daughters to play catch with you or help change the oil in the car, but after you get past toddler stage you really can’t get boys to do things they see as girl stuff.
And please stay tuned for this amazing anecdote:
This is driven home to me every time my daughters recruit me for what they call The Shooting Game (featuring handheld Nerf cannons), during which they do things like provide covering fire for each other while retrieving dress-ups from the bin or—I’m not making this up—applying lip gloss. There’s something about being pinned down by fire from an 8-year-old in a Snow White dress so that a 6-year-old can apply Hello Kitty lip gloss through the open front of the head of her full-body sheep suit that drives home the difference between the repertoires of boys and girls.
It also drives home the idea that Carlo lives inside a PG Tarantino movie.
I’m writing this late at night, and my body has that achy, athletic tiredness. Tomorrow is a no-baby-sitting day, so I need to finish. Susan just came in with the results of her “Housework Equality” quiz, and some of my responses to her responses were: “That’s bullshit.” Exhibit A: the category of “Purging—donating/discarding items.” Susan marked down that we share this responsibility equally. Let’s just say that someone in the house religiously reads Unclutterer, and someone is still upset that I made her throw out her American Express bills from her 20s.
Here’s a real Housework Equality quiz:
It’s 3 a.m. on a Tuesday. The baby wakes in the crib. He’s crying loud enough to wake his brother. If the mother goes to comfort the baby, the baby will flip out and demand to be nursed. If the father goes to comfort the baby, he’ll have to rock him to sleep for at least an hour. The father has to work tomorrow. Who should go get the baby?
It’s 9 p.m. The kids have finally conked out thanks to a team effort. There is no food or beer in the house. Whose fault is that?
[Susan takes command of the keyboard.]
It’s the third Friday of the month. There’s no money in the checking account. Who bought too much heirloom bacon at the Greenmarket?
[Mike is back.]
Who has said, “I just need five seconds” more times that day?
Who is pretending not to smell the poop?
Who claims that not running gives her headaches?
[Susan back again.]
Let’s stop. I win.
Fine with me. I’ve got plenty of FootyTube to catch up on.