Thursday, June 25, 2009

He Blogs, She Blogs: Thank God for The GPS

Hey everyone! Sorry about last week, I know some of you (ahem, STEENKY BEE) were a little lost without He Blogs, She Blogs, but I was just coming back from my trip to San Diego and was even more discombobulated than usual (I know, you didn't think it was possible, did you?). But now we are back on schedule so none of you will be forced to watch Real Housewives of New Jersey or something equally horrible to pass the time.

Today, The Captain and I are going to discuss DRIVING. Yes, this is a good one, because I am sure all of us have been witness to some pretty interesting car ride arguments with our parents growing up, and of course we all said "Oh, I am NEVER going to be like THAT when I grow up and get married." But you did, didn't you? Oh, you didn't? OK, well, then I did, and I ain't ashamed to tell you about it. I'm just honest like that--all for you people. Man, I am not going to have ANY secrets left at this rate.

I remember growing up that my parents often had "heated discussions" (a.k.a. shout matches) while I sat in the backseat on our way to some family event. Back then there was no GPS and you had to rely on good ole directions scribbled down by hand on a scrap of paper. It was inevitable that you were going to get lost approximately 68% of the time, and then my dad's driving would become 10 times worse, my mother's voice would become 20 times louder and I would find myself holding my ears from the screams of "turn here, turn HERE!!"

Thankfully my dad wasn't one of those guys that wouldn't stop for directions, but we usually drove around for at least 45 minutes before he resorted to that. So by the time we got to our destination, usually at least an hour late, my parents were irritated and not speaking to each other and I had to pee reeeeaaaal bad.

So when I got married, I always told myself I would not be a passenger seat driver, that I would keep my cool while traveling with my husband (who is always the one to drive when we go out together) and that we wouldn't succumb to the whole cliche concept.

But what I didn't count on was that my husband likes to drive like he is trying to win The Amazing Race and that he has road rage with a capital "R." I would sit in the passenger seat, gripping the arm rest for dear life, sighing and huffing and puffing every time he stopped short and scowling every time he swore at someone in front of him or beeped his horn. Yes, I had turned into "that" wife. And I didn't like it one bit.

So I tried talking to him rationally. "Yelling and swearing is not going to make the people go any faster or drive any better," I would tell him calmly. "Just take a deep breath." He would try, but as soon as some person going 20 miles an hour in a 45 mph zone would get in front of us, I could see the smoke coming out of his ears. But he's getting better. And as soon as the kids came along, I played the safety card when it came to his "need for speed." This seems to have tamed his driving quite a bit, and I try to be more patient when it comes to his impatience with other drivers.

All I have to say is thank God for the GPS; however, don't put the two of us in a car together in downtown Boston, where EVERY TIME we have tried to get around there, the GPS has either taken us the wrong way or stopped working, because then the gloves are off and we are usually screaming at each other by the time we get to our destination. There is just something about getting lost that makes the person that is not driving feel like they know EXACTLY what to do and where to go and that it would never have happened if they had been driving. Needless to say, the driver doesn't appreciate it and having someone scream "turn here!" at the top of their lungs right as you are passing an exit is a tad frustrating. OK, it makes you want to punch them in the face.

But I am proud to say my husband and I have never punched each other in the face while driving, and we try very hard to make our trips nice and peaceful. But sometimes, just sometimes, those old habits (you know, the ones that die hard?) come back and the car becomes a war zone.

So I just remind myself that I love my husband.

And how much worse it would be without GPS...

Chad a.k.a. Captain Dumbass: The Male

Before we go anywhere, I should warn you that I asked my wife to proof this after she got home from work. Her first comment was, "this is pretty slapdash." It ended with, "this isn't about anything, it's just a meandering anecdote." Um... she may have a point.

Driving, it was my choice for a topic today. About five minutes after emailing Petra with it this morning she responded back that she was done. As usual, even though it was my idea, here I sit staring glassy eyed at the screen waiting for something shiny to distract me. Earlier tonight, when I first sat down to write this I did the same thing but then decided to distract you from my inability to slap together a cohesive post with a picture. I hadn't tried Microsoft's new search engine, Bing, and I'd heard that, image and video wise, it's pretty good.* So I bring up the page and search 'crazy driver.' This is what I get for the first photo.

Huh? This is supposedly a cat, but I'm thinking it looks a lot more like the alien from Lelo & Stitch. So then I wander off to do the dishes before my wife gets home and gives me the pimp hand and while I'm 'soaking in it (thanks Madge!),' I remember a time way back before we got married when we were driving across the country.

We'd spent the night in Winnipeg and set out the next morning for... Minneapolis? We went to the Mall of America, so wherever that is. Ok, we were driving across two countries, whatever. Anyway, it's morning rush hour in a strange city and we get totally lost. This is 1994 so there is no GPS or Google maps on the iPhone or Blackberry, just inexplicably contradictory road signs. Plus, we have mountains and an ocean where we live. If I don't know where I am here I just look for a landmark. Giant expanse of water? That would be West. Winnipeg? It's flat. Flat like it was levelled by glaciers 10,000 years ago. Ah, the animosity and finger pointing. Fifteen years later and the phrase, "at least I didn't get us lost in Winnipeg" still gets a rise out of whomever it's used on.**

But now it's 2009 and we all have access to crazy Star Trek gadgets that connect to satellites in geosynchronous orbits above us and can tell us kind of exactly where we are. Last week my oldest had a field trip and family members were invited. Our 'local' zoo is way to hell and gone from where we live so the night before I check Google maps to figure out where we're going. I saw that it was actually on the same route we take to go up and visit my family so I just make note of the cross street and go to bed happy. You know those roads that have an intersection at a little bend in the road and they turn into different roads? Didn't see that on Google. Remember me saying something about landmarks earlier on? Ya, that doesn't work out so well when you're surrounded by trees. We're in the middle of grassy fields and cottonwoods and all I can think of is M. Knight Shyamalan's last movie The Happening and that the trees are going to kill us.

With visions of our little six year old's tearful face when he got off the bus expecting to see his parents and didn't, I'm given the green light to drive. I pull the e-brake and throw the Caravan into a tire smoking 180 degree turn. We race through those country roads like we're in a rally car, getting air time over railroad crossings and sliding through corners like a Tokyo street racer. We found that damned zoo, and my little boys eyes stayed dry.

Was this post about driving or getting lost?

*Bing is actually pretty good for searching images. Much prettier than Google.
**I'm not pointing fingers, but I wasn't the one with the map in their hand, I was driving.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

He Blogs, She Blogs: Don't Make Me Turn This Car Around!

Chad a.k.a Captain Dumbass: The Male


Ok, are you listening to me now? Are you? I don't ca- *inner ABS kicks in* It doesn't matter what your brother said... This week on HBSB, parenting styles and discipline. Oh ya. You just rolled your eyes. I know, it's a headache for all of us. We all come into it with different ideas of how to handle it, and it's never the same as our partners.

In my house, we fall into the stereotypical roles of good cop/bad cop. I've got the vocal range, the heavy step and the glare of doom. I'm the Dirty Harry of Bad Cops. Old and grizzled. Full of righteous thunder and damnation.

My wife? Good cop. Pushes me out of the interrogation room after I've swept the incriminating photos and stale coffee cups off the desk and kicked my chair over. "Look, I don't know how long I can control my partner, if you just come clean maybe we can make a deal..." Her patience amazes me, and also settles me down once I've blown my top. She gets down to their level and figures out what's going on which usually gives me time to catch a breath and realize I'm being an idiot. But you know what? If the good cop/bad cop routine didn't work it wouldn't still be around, would it?

And the secret to a good GCBC routine is changing it up every once in awhile so it doesn't go stale and your ___ year old is reciting your lines back to you before you get to them. Every once in awhile I'm the good cop. I'm the one trying to reason with everybody and using my inside voice. When my wife goes off, the kids they know they are in it deep. The woman is like a Dementor, she even scares the shit out of me. Any incident that involves Dad intervening is a lesson learned or at least not soon forgotten. And you cannot imagine how long I just spent trying to find a decent image of a Dementor. Why aren't there more images of them? Then I was fishing around trying to think of a 'good' cop for an image but got stuck on Danny Glover and sure my wife isn't a large African-American man but you try finding a tv/film cop duo starring a female South East Asian, and again, where the hell are all the images of Sgt. Roger Murtaugh?

So now it's only a few minutes until our publishing time and I'm spiralling out of control so you should probably just skip on ahead to Petra's piece since she can actually write and string two thoughts together and I don't even know how to close this off. Seriously. Go. I'm putting a bullet in this one.

Petra a.k.a. The Wise (Young) Mommy: The Female

So, this week for He Blogs, She Blogs, we are discussing parenting styles, discipline and giving into your kids.

You know the deal--good guy/bad guy, the softie versus the dictator, the one that turns into a puddle of mush when the little one gives the puppy dog eyes, as opposed to the one that has nerves of steel when it comes to the kids. There is no shortage of marital discord when it comes to raising children; I don't know many couples who completely agree with how to parent their children. Once again, Mars and Venus strikes again--men and women just look at things so differently.

For instance, my husband thinks that louder is better. Don't get me wrong, I have my moments of losing my cool and having a little tantrum when my kids are acting like the devil's spawn. But he goes from 0 to 60 in .2 seconds and it never serves to do anything but create more chaos in whatever situation he is trying to diffuse. It also took me a long time to get him out of the mind set that "touchy feely" parenting isn't all that bad, and it is actually good to sit down with children and talk to them when they are upset or acting out.

But perhaps, maybe, just maybe I am sometimes a little too emotional. Like when I let the kids drive me to tears, thus losing all control of the situation. And maybe sometimes I let things go that I shouldn't, wanting to pick my battles, you know? But seriously, a mom gets tired of saying the SAME DAMN THINGS all day long to her children, so sometimes it comes time to turn the other cheek. (No, not the "kiss my ass" cheek, the other one.)

Now, when my daughter came into this world, there came a whole new issue. All of a sudden, when hubby looked into her big, blue eyes and her halo of golden blonde hair, he couldn't say no. A Daddy's Girl had been born and he became the one of us to ALWAYS give in to what she wanted, especially since she was such a sweet infant and toddler up to the age of 3. Mommy became the big bad villain, so you can imagine the fanfare when Daddy came home from work in those days. Now that she is going through the torrid, TERRIBLE, no good, very bad 3's, it's a little easier for him to say no to her, I think.

But me, my nerves are so shot by the end of the day that when she asks 5,245 times for a cookie in the same high pitched, whiny voice while following me around with seemingly no plans of stopping, I have been known in a moment of weakness to give in and give her the damn cookie. Cause, really, my sanity is worth it to me. But you see, when I have my housekeeper, personal assistant and part-time mother's helper, this will never happen and I will be a rock. Riiiggghhtt...

All in all, I think we have gotten fairly good at working together and being on the same page, but I remember the days when my stepson acting up and the two of us wanting to handle it totally different ways turned into a huge blowout between the two of us, in the end neither one of us even remember what he had done to spark it in the first place. The good thing about these moments now is that the two of us have been sufficiently beaten into submission by our children so our number one priority is always to nip the bad behavior in the bud and we know we have to gang up on them to accomplish that. There's two of us, and two of them, so we are almost on a level playing field.

If we have another kid, we are in serious trouble.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

He Blogs, She Blogs: Fighting, Apologies and Make-Up Sex

Petra a.k.a. The Wise (Young) Mommy: The Female


Ha! I actually got my post written before the Captain this week so I am laying claim to the coveted position of first this week (you could say I am on top, but that would just leave me open for all kinds of sexual innuendo, now wouldn't it?)

This week we are discussing the all too familiar fighting, apologizing and making up issue in relationships. In our case, both Captain Dumbass and I are married so I think we both have plenty of experience with it. My husband is finally starting to learn how to argue with a woman, after eight years of being together and almost five years of marriage, so I can, in all honesty, say that I know the "proper" way to fight.

Men: the woman is always right. Nod, smile and say "Yes, dear."

Haha! Yeah right! Well, although I would like it to be known that I am almost always right, that isn't the proper way to lay the smack down with your significant other.

When my husband and I first got together, I had never really been an a mature, adult relationship and his only experience in a relationship was with his ex who regularly called the police on him when they fought and things were usually broken in the process. Me being completely terrified of confrontation and more sensitive than anyone he had ever met, we had some, well we'll just say "difficulties" in the beginning when it came time to disagree. It often ended with him storming off and screeching down the street in his car and me crying my eyes out in bed, thinking I was never going to forgive him. Yes, when you put two young, immature young adults, totally unsure of themselves together, you get a big, giant mess. Somehow, I would always end up being the one to apologize, mostly to end the argument and then we would have amazing make-up sex, usually involving a blow job, and call it a day. But the issues never became resolved. Thus, the same fights happened over and over again.

Amazingly, we stayed together through these years and years of cyclical fighting, crying and having hot makeup sex, and we both grew up. I knew that I didn't want to be in a non-communicative relationship and he realized clamming up and then screaming like a Jerry Springer guest when it all finally came out was not beneficial to our relationship. Eventually, we learned how to argue effectively, sometimes even accomplishing something.

But, that's not to say that we always sit calmly down, each pose our points of view and then come up with a rational answer every time we disagree. Far from it. We still make each other really angry sometimes, and sometimes, there is even some name calling (mostly on my part) and banging things around (on his part). But it is the exception, rather than the rule now. For the little things, we sometimes agree to disagree, sometimes hash it out in a heated debate like grown-ups and I even get the head nod and "Yes, dear" from him on occasion when it's something not worth fighting about (and, of course, I am right) or even an apology when he knows he was wrong. That, right there in itself, is amazing. We're making progress. By the 50 year mark, we probably won't be fighting at all.

But one thing hasn't changed.

We still have some HOT make-up sex after the big ones--that's why I keep picking fights with him ;)

Chad a.k.a. Captain Dumbass: the male

Damn! Petra beat me to it this time around. I don't even have the excuse of having actual columns to write like her. My relationship with Petra is much like a marriage. She gives me tasks and I apologize a lot for not getting them done on time. Maybe it's the heat, but I've been lacking in the inspiration department lately. Two days after she told me it was my week to choose a topic I found myself on Twitter begging for help.

Help? It's my turn to pick an idea for He Blogs/She Blogs and I got nothin. Help a brother out. Any ideas out there? I'll wash your car.

So it looks like I have to book a flight to Texas this weekend. The Stiletto Mom answered first with "apologies...and make ups? who does it best? or who can't ever be wrong?" Thanks to everybody else who tweeted back, your suggestions are all on the list now. I wonder how many cars Stiletto has? I didn't really think this one through.

So. Apologies. Yaaaa... *holds 'a'sound and looks around refusing to make eye contact* Teaching the kids the 'pull my finger' joke, coming home from Costco with an Xbox when I shouldn't have even been at Costco, letting the boys watch me play... questionable video games, I'd have to say I make the best apologies, but only because I get the most practice. I do my best to live up to the stereotypical husband.

I was about to write something about my wife and I not being the 'never wrong' types, but then I heard her derisive laughter echoing around my head. Ok, so I occasionally have strong opinions about certain things, but if tempers have become involved (which in our house usually means mutual silent treatment... ok, silent treatment from her and I steam) I eventually see the error of my ways. Or rationally understand the reasons why she's wrong and I'm right.

All joking aside, I'm a man, and like most men, I box things up. Box 'em up and bury them. Move on. This causes a lot of issues between the sexes when woman want to talk about (insert issue here). Woman, you don't like to box things up. You pile it up in the centre of the room. Do we want to talk about it? Hell no. It's been boxed up. It's in the garage. What's for dinner? This is probably why we get so crabby when you won't let it go. Sure the box may be overflowing or rotted along the edges and seeping out onto the floor, but dammit, it's put away! We already marked that box as 'I was right,' game over.

I think I've gotten better at this over time, or at least I'm trying. For the big stuff anyway. The little stuff? I know better.

Guilty as charged.

PS. Out of curiosity I checked out airfare from Vancouver to Dallas. Economy seats from today and returning tomorrow ranged from $875 to over $2400, and that doesn't include the extortionate Canadian taxes that get added on to every flight. WTH?

PPS. Happy Birthday, Mrs. Dumbass a.k.a. Supreme Leader