Saturday, May 5, 2007

Mr Me, Continued

Following up from my earlier post, I am now at the end of my spouse free week. You will be pleased to know that my daughter at last discovered a scientific way out of her brother's diet. This morning (a Saturday) I got up to find all three of them sitting at breakfast. The usual idea is that if they get themselves up, they can choose what they want to eat. Sadly, due to the constraints of my son's 'preservative free' diet, that didn't leave a lot of good options. However, apparently, there was one thing they all knew was preservative free, melting cooking chocolate pieces. And so they simply substituted for the usual cereal and had pieces, milk all in a bowl. My daughter also put in 'preservative full' chocolate into her bowl and her younger sisters to test whether their behaviour would get worse. Suffice it to say, it was going to be a heroic effort if no one's behaviour was worse! As it turned out, they were all pretty well behaved even during a trip to the supermarket which is just asking for trouble.

So with the science over, I am optimistic we can free ourselves of the dietary explanations for the fact that my son sometimes doesn't listen to us and go back to the usual age-related reasons; that is, he is six and suffers from an older sister who is on the extreme of listening. (Hmm, perhaps she is preservative deficient?)

On to other matters. One thing that interests me about times like this -- and this has happened every time -- is the reaction of others. Put simply, most people treat me as if my spouse had suddenly passed away. I get lots of:
"Oh I heard about that, how are you coping?" in a tone that suggests that the funeral was yesterday.

"Do the kids understand what has happened?" Yes, their Mummy has gone to a better place; a spa resort!

"What are you doing for food?" Well at the moment I have dangled the two year old outside as bait to see if we can catch something, it is what their mother would have wanted.
And so on. Fortunately, I expect her to be resurrected tomorrow. Something that will apparently surprise everyone.

Now when I have to go away (always for work by the way and not for fun), my wife doesn't get that same reaction. It is more like "oh that bastard, he's abandoned you and the children for fun and games." Basically, as if I had walked out and left everyone to fend for themselves. Then she gets lots of "you'll be better off without him anyway" and "it is not like he really did anything useful." She gets the sympathy reserved for deliberately abandoned as opposed to the tragically taken away in her prime that I receive. Anger versus sorrow. It is unclear that either is helpful.

When it comes down to it, the appropriate reaction is: "oh dear, there goes the division of labour." I'd like to think that that would have been Adam Smith's reaction to these things. The problem is that tasks have to be done and there is no time for any emotion. Now, most tasks just take more time. Then again, there is time freed up from dealing with each other, so that it is not all bad.

It is the tasks and routine activities that really require both of us that are an issue. Driving children around to various activities was the main thing. If they occur at the same time, you are stuffed. If they occur during someone's sleep time, you are stuffed. If they occur too late in the day, you are stuffed. If they occur during school pick up time, you are stuffed. If they require memory (we had a tooth loss this week and a tooth fairy that needed remembering to come), you are most likely stuffed. You just need two or more adults for certain things.

So I miss her very much; I could use the extra pair of hands.