Lately, when the Bean asks me for something and gets an answer that he doesn’t like, he goes to WonderWife™ and asks her the same question. A kid playing one parent against the other is hardly headline news, but I wonder if I may have inadvertently triggered this behavior?
You see, I am now a husband and a father, which means that I have no idea how to run the household. I no longer know where we keep the spare toilet paper, or what kind of laundry detergent we use. Although WW™ and I make the major parenting decisions together, when it comes to day to day choices, like what’s for dinner or is it alright to have that thing for a snack, WW™ is the sole decider. On many occasions when the kid asks me a question, I will utter, “Let’s go ask mommy.” So is it any wonder that the Bean considers her the absolute voice of reason?
I predicted this would happen, by the way. It was the weekend of my wedding and I was hanging out with my future mother-in-law at the airport, waiting for family to arrive.
“This is the end of the me, you know,” I said to her. She thought I was crazy. “No really,” I promised. “I’m about to become a married man. It’s only a matter of time before I’m different. Before I’m totally dependent on your daughter.”
I grew up with a father who can’t boil water without written instructions. Although he built his career as a shrewd businessman and fierce negotiator, he is clueless when it comes to the basic building blocks of life. Laundry is as mystifying to him as trying to read some ancient document written in Sanskrit. And he isn’t the only one. Pretty much every dad I knew growing up was equally as clueless.
How was this possible? I know that my dad lived by himself for years before he met my mom. I’m fairly confident that during that time his clothes were clean and his belly was full. He had to be in at least good enough shape to land my mom, right?
It wasn’t long before I figured out that there is something about marriage that sucks the independence out of us men. You need proof? Watch any sitcom centered around a family or listen to any stand up comic routine from the 80s. This phenomenon has been well documented.
So, on the eve of my wedding, I was certain that it was going to happen to me also. And it did.
I’m still in the early phases of it. Shades of my old life are thankfully present. As of right now, I still have the ability to properly coordinate my clothing or cook dinner for the family. But I can see it all rapidly slipping away. I now need to be told when it’s time to retire a shirt that’s painfully out of style. And while I used to be able to navigate a grocery store with ease, I sometimes find myself wandering the aisles, blindly looking for a single ingredient. I will ask my wife questions like, “Where do we keep the extra towels?” knowing full well where we keep them.
There doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it. And the scary thing is that a part of me is totally content with slipping into this domestic coma. I just think it’s amazing that a toddler has so clearly picked up on it.