You may not know this, but my wife and I are a pretty damn good team. What makes us a good team? The answer is simple: I do pretty much whatever she asks me to. What makes this arrangement work? My wife knows what not to ask me.
She learned pretty early on not to ask me clean the bathrooms. Using my past performance and the rest of my family as a guide, it’s clear that Cheryl and I simply have different thresholds for what constitutes “clean” (and that this difference runs to the core of our very being). We learned the hard way that the bathroom is one of those places where that kind of difference of opinion can have disastrous effects on a marriage. Now for the first time in my 33 years I have a bathroom that is clean enough to eat out of, and I should know. Who says I can’t have a Pop Tart on the can?
One area where this approach has broken down is the overnight childcare arrangement. We tag team through the night. While this arrangement is otherwise peachy, we’ve found it’s a lot harder to tell me what to do when one of us is asleep in the other room. This is critical when it comes to tending to our oldest child. Left to my own devices, I’m much more laid back, and it shows when Beth gets up in the morning. You see I always take the early shift, so I’m responsible for supervising the evening/bedtime routine. It seems Cheryl is never impressed when Beth is already dressed for school in the morning when she gets out of bed. My laissez-faire approach to child rearing takes it’s toll on my wife’s morning routine as well. The first thing child experts tell parents is, “be consistent.” That means if one parent is going laissez-faire, both should go laissez-faire. If one parent practices laissez-faire and the other restreignez-faire, what you get is disastre. (You can hardly tell I have virtually no knowledge of the French language, can you? For all of the fellow non-French speakers out there, I frequently make up my own French phrases whenever it suits me.)
Apparently the transition from dad to mom is a rough one, but it sure does make dad popular with the kids.
Sometime very soon I’m going to fetch a slap.