Monday, May 26, 2008

Division of Labor

Some people say that opposites attract. I'm not certain that this works out in general, but it sure does apply to my wife and I. There are some things that she is just better at than I am, and some things that I am better at than her.

One example is organization. I am simply a much better organized person than she is, particularly when it comes to items that I consider to be important. I can't keep track of everything, so my mind automatically assigns priorities to different items depending upon how often I need to find them. By the way, this leads to one of my favorite games, called "watch me find it with my eyes closed". Here is an example of how it's played:

I always "brown bag" my lunch to save money. Mornings can be hectic, and time is often a constraint, so I end up eating a lot of peanut butter sandwiches. So, my mind assigns a high priority to notcing where the peanut butter is so I don't have to waste time looking around in the cabinet for it. Last week, I heard my wife in the kitchen announce, "I think someone broke into our house last night and stole the peanut butter again," meaning that she couldn't find it and was beginning to get frustrated.

I exited the bathroom with my eyes closed and said "watch me find it with my eyes closed". I felt my way over to the cabinet, reached into the cabinet up on the right hand side of the second shelf up from the bottom, grabbed the peanut butter, and handed it to her.

Now my wife will lie and tell you that she hates this game of mine, but in the end she likes the fact that I know where stuff is. We finish the game when my wife gives me a kiss, says "thank you," then punches in me in the arm and calls me a "jerk".

My other game is called "what do I get if you're wrong and I'm right?" We usually play this game when driving. My wife just can't navigate at all. Years ago we lived with my parents for about a year, and after 12 months living in the house she still couldn't figure out which window she would have to look out to see the back yard. We have lived in the same city for 5 years, and she still gets lost driving around. It's bad.

Again last week, on the way to the rehearsal dinner for her cousin's wedding, I was headed to the restaurant when my wife piped in, "I think you're going the wrong way."

"I know which way it is, honey."

"No, I think you were supposed to turn the other way back there. I think you are going the wrong way."

"What do I get if you're wrong and I'm right?"

She doesn't respond right away. She knows it's a trap. But she can't help herself. Her haywired directional sensors are going crazy.

"How long are you going to go the wrong way before you admit that you're wrong and turn around?"

My response is simple, and very effective. "What do I get if you're wrong and I'm right?"

She is silent for another ten seconds, until we see the sign for the restaurant as we round over the hill.

"I hate it when you're right! I hate it when you're right!"

We play that game all the time.

So, here is where I am grossly incompetent. I have no idea when the kids are sick.

Now, don't misundertand me. I don't mean that I have a hard time figuring out when they are fine or when they need to go to the doctor. I mean that I have been wrong, every single time the issue has come up, for over nine years. That means that a blind-folded, brain damaged monkey throwing darts at a dart board has better odds than me. Heck, I would be better off flipping a coin - at least then I'd be right 50% of the time.

I have learned through trial and error to never even question my wife on the issue. She has some innate ablity to tell the difference between sniffles and the flu just by looking at the kids and listening to them. Not me. In fact, I'm so screwed up, it's not that I can't tell the difference between them - it's that my brain thinks that it can tell the difference, with absolute certainty, and it is always, always completely wrong. If I think the kids are sick, then they just have a little allergies and need some benadryl before bed. If I think that the kids are fine, then we had better get them to the emergency room quickly - seconds may count.

Six weeks ago, my five year old daughter fell off the couch and hurt her arm. She cried for a while, and cradled her arm a little, but she seemed OK to me (always a bad sign). Kids fall and bruise themselves all the time. The next day, we were at one of her cousin's birthday parties. She accidentally banged her arm, and started crying again. My wife told me, "she seems really hurt. What do you think?"

"I think she's probably fine. She just hit it again on the same spot as yesterday. It's still bruised, so of course it hurt. But she's tough. She'll be OK."

"I don't know. I don't like the sound of that cry. She seems really hurt."

Part of me was certain that she was OK, and that my wife was overreacting. But, somewhere in the back of my mind, the danger sensor started rigning.


"Honey, do you think we should take her to the doctor?"

"No," I said calmly. "I think she'll be fine."

"So, what do you want to do with her?"

"I want to take her to the emergency room."

"But I thought you said you thought she's fine."

"I know that's what I said. I am a complete moron when it comes to this. We can't wait to get her back to the city. We should bring her to the hospital here in (her Mom's hometown)."

And that is how we found out that my daughter had a buckle-fracture of her left arm.

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