I've always heard it said that a husband and wife often compliment each other. That when one is a social butterfly, the other is a wallflower. When one is creative, the other is more practical. When one is horny, the other has a headache.
And when they eventually have children, this ying an yang carry over into parenthood. There's the Good Cop/Bad Cop, one gives the baths while the other cleans up dinner, one comforts the sick while the other washes puke from the bedsheets.
And in our house, one builds forts and one cannot for the life of her get just one cushion to stand on end without it toppling over and squishing Baby Els.
Why can't I build a fort? Seriously, I'm an intelligent, able-bodied person. I've watched enough HGTV to understand the concept of Load Bearing Walls and Structural Integrity. But every time I try to construct something that even remotely resembles a dwelling out of cushions and blankets, it turns out looking like a one-room crack-house on the brink of collapse. Any of you notice the pictures in the previous entry? Look more closely at the one picture of Rollie and the gingerbread train and you'll get an idea of how badly I suck at building anything, even on a small, edible scale.
My confidence in my skills as an architect isn't at all boosted by the fact that I married a man who as a child used to disassemble lawn mower engines just for fun. On the weekends when it's my day to sleep in, I emerge from the bedroom to find that our entire fleet of couches has been transformed into a nine-room palace of pillows and quilts, with secret passageways, walk-in closets and a working elevator. It's quite impressive, and, I'll admit it, a tad annoying. I mean, come on. How am I supposed to duplicate such architectural splendor when I can't even build a Lego house without the possibility of the housing authority condemning it?
Another thing I've discovered that I am the polar opposite of Jeff when it comes to parenting is cooking our children dinner. This is simply because most of what I cook for them ends up either on the floor and thus into our dog's stomach, or left on the plate because it's either a.) too hot, b.) too cold, c.) yucky, or d.) not a marshmallow. The hell if I'm gonna waste my time and patience preparing something that will sit congealing on their plates until I get so irritated with them that I give up and give them both ice cream cones so at least they'll sit quietly for a few minutes so I can scrape the remnants of their food down the garbage disposal. I can't tell you how many pounds of mac&cheese, spaghetti, chicken nuggets and french fries (...wow...I really feed my children absolute crap, don't I?) have all had a final date with The InSinkerator
Jeff, on the other, more determined hand, will whip up all sorts of creative dishes literally from scratch. He seasons their food, for crying out loud. He arranges them on a plate so attractively even they are impressed. From him have come such treats as The Applesauce Man (with whipped cream hair and M&M eyes), Chocolate Cream of Wheat (the kind you have to stand at the stovetop and stir, for God's sake), chicken and rice, steamed vegetables...he'll grill them meat and potatoes, and he even got Rollie to eat salad on a few occasions. Sheesh, if I even mention the word Salad to Rollie he'll wrinkle his nose and say something like, "That's what rabbits eat, Momma."
But I guess it's a good thing that we have different strengths when it comes to caring for our kids. I have my moments of patience when the kids are whining so much Jeff starts spelling out things to me like "He's being a total B-R-A-T....I wish she'd S-H-U-T-U-P....I'm about to S-K-E-W-E-R him on the R-O-T-I-S-S-E-R-I-E."
And when he comes home from work and the kids eyes light up and they start squealing like pigs being slaughtered (but in a good way) and he dances around with them in the family room while I retreat to my happy place for a few minutes, glad to be free at last, I know that as parents we have struck a good balance with our children. So what if I can't build a decent fort? Or cook a decent meal? Or explain photosynthesis to them? I'm the one who lets them watch ungodly amounts of TV...I'm the one who gives them lollipops just to shut them up...I'm the one they throw-up on and whose hair they pull and boobies they pinch....
Um...maybe it's time I learned how to build a freaking fort after all.....