Category Archives: Marriage

Of boys and marriage

Living with boys is essentially, living with doubt. “Are you sure? Really? Why?” Everything comes with a question: every request, every remark, every opinion.

“Darling, can you pass me the lettuce from the fridge, please?”

“Lettuce?”

“Yes. Lettuce. Please.”

“Why do you want lettuce?”

“To make a salad.”

“Are you sure you want to make a salad?”

Men doubt and question everything that women do. And we women, naturally, retaliate. We retaliate with our biggest weapon: we become mean. And then we blame the men.

“Hon, can you pass me that apple from the tree?”

“Why?”

“I want to eat it.”

“Are you sure you should be eating it?”

Scrunch!

“Yup, pretty sure Adam baby, pretty sure.”

“Why did you eat that?!”

“It’s your fault! Why did you pass it to me?”

Boys’ doubting and constant questioning would have been half a problem if they could at least take care of themselves on their own. Or if they made sense.

On a recent trip to Berlin to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary, my husband, Big Boy No. 1 and I, encountered very sunny weather and it wasn’t long before my big boy’s eyes started tearing and bothering him through his glasses.

Over breakfast I asked him why he didn’t bring his prescription sunglasses with him. His answer was that he didn’t think it would be so sunny.

“In July?” I asked.

“Well yes, I didn’t expect it to be so sunny in Berlin in July.”

“But why didn’t you bring them anyway? Why didn’t you think you would need them in July?” I persisted.

“Because it’s not the sun that bothers me. I don’t normally need them. It’s the sun that reflects off all these metallic surfaces that kills me, the kind of Northern European sun.”

“Like the sun in Berlin in July?”

We were getting annoyed with each other by then, him with me making fun of him and me with his inability to plan and pack properly. After a few minutes, my anger gave way to empathy.

“Here,” I said passing him my sunglasses across the table, “try these on for a while. See if they help.”

He took them, examined the lenses and promptly took out his lens wipe, cleaned them and gave them back to me.

“Here, they should be more pleasant to wear now.”

And that is why we have been married for twenty years and will probably stay married for the next twenty. I thanked him and thanked God for creating boys with such a short attention span and no rancour. So what’s a few questions here and there?

 

 

On boys and sailboats…and jealousy

A great thing about living with boys is that, should you choose to be, you can be invisible. My husband and I spend most of our time communicating via WhatsApp and messaging. We love each other dearly, we send each other articles we’ve read and that we’ve liked, podcasts, images…we love each other through our screens.

My older boys, similarly, are on screens either conducting their own on-screen love affairs or playing games. Sometimes, conveniently, we forget that we are under the same roof, each enjoying our own on-screen time in our own chosen room.

I have to say the only one who still really loves me is my 10 year-old. He’s the only one who still looks at me and wants my attention and every now and again I have to give him a screen so he can lay off the questions and I can get my thoughts down. I know I’ll regret it one day, but I may not even live to one day so I’ll deal with it when I get there.

For now, we all live in a state of mutual love and disregard.

Which is probably how my husband, Big Boy number one, imagined the conversation would go one morning a few years back when he was telling me about a new acquaintance he had met on one of his recent trip abroad, while I was checking my e-mail, on-screen.

“He’s a great guy,” he said, “really bright, you’ll like him. I’ll arrange for you to meet him.”

“Uh-huh,” I replied, with little enthusiasm. I had enough boys in my life, I figured I could do without one more.

“He works for…I’ve got to reply to this e-mail now…very competent…did I arrange for boy number two to get picked up…a graduate of…”

“Uh-huh.” I’ve got to order my groceries.

“He’s planning a trip in the Mediterranean,” uh-huh, “on his sailboat.”

We are more like our dogs than we think.

My ears perked up.

At that time, probably after reading one self-help book or another, I had decided that I will try everything that remotely interested me and promptly took up sailing. I loved it, bought the requisite books and fancied myself a sailor despite my having only sailed a Laser 4, slowly. A mildly competent windsurfer would have beaten me at any race. Still, I had a certificate and I sailed boats, albeit small ones. Anyone with a sailboat was my friend.

I think it was my sudden enthusiasm that threw him off-guard.

“Oh wow!” I exclaimed. “This guy sounds amazing! I’ve got to meet him! You’ve got to introduce me!

Mike, I continued, this guy has to become our friend!”

Somehow I wasn’t so invisible anymore.

“Well,” said my husband, “he’s not that great.”

“What do you mean he’s not that great? Just a second ago he was a brilliant, interesting,  bright guy, a sailor no less, and now that he’s caught my interest he’s not that great?”

“Well, he’s a bit of a geek.”

I reminded him that our eldest son was a bit of a geek and yet we still loved him.

“He’s not that kind of geek.”

“Well what kind of geek is he? Is there more than one kind?”

The answer was not forthcoming. The subject was promptly closed and I was never introduced to my would-be best friend. His subject would never come up again.

I asked my husband about him a couple of times since that conversation, but it was too late, I had become invisible again.

 

On living with boys…and a dog

Farts, fights, burps, hours in the toilet and clothes on the floor, what’s not to like?

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the mother or the resident dog but my husband says he wants that role. So I am the head culinary director, chief transportation manager, headmistress, chief hygiene officer, personal shopper and party planner. In my spare time I work.

I think my husband’s right, better to be the dog.

This is now of course. ‘Tis was not always thus. I remember once having a fight with my husband when our kids were still babies and toddlers, during which he expressed his displeasure at feeling as if he were not a husband and a father but “sometimes I feel like I’m just the dog in this house.”

That was before we got the dog.

In February 2014, Molly Gru (as in Despicable Me-best movie ever made) landed in our midst. Well, more like arrived in a box. I was immediately smitten. Here was the girl I never had! so what if she stood on four legs? MG was cute, small, furry and adored me. And I adored her back, much to everyone’s consternation. Plus she barked at anyone who upset me. What more could a girl ask for? Finally the attention I craved in a house of navel-gazers.

Two and a half years post Molly Gru entering our lives and still in mutual adoration, I reminded my husband of that conversation some years back.

“Now that you see how I treat the dog,” I said, “don’t you wish you had actually been the dog?” He was quiet. He was sad. With a wistful smile I saw him turn around and grab a tissue. I’m pretty sure he was shedding a tear or two.