March 10, 2010

moms and dads

The fabulous Kiersten posted today about her young child wanting an ice cream cone for breakfast.  The post, and some of the comments, reminded me of a Bill Cosby story I'd seen him perform 25 years ago.  So I searched youtube and came up with it right away.  Having only about 35 hours of work to complete in the last 30 minutes of the day, I decided I had plenty of time to watch this 10 minute story.  (And blog about it.)

You should watch it now before reading further.  It contains great wisdom for the observant.

What, you ask, is the great wisdom contained therein?  The fact that mothers and fathers do not always see things the same way.  I have learned this over time myself, after becoming a parent.

See, moms care about things like nutrition, rules, conventions, and discipline.  Dads care about convenience, happiness, and... well, convenience and happiness.  When a dad imposes discipline--and it has been this way since caveman days--he does so for only one of two reasons.  The first and most important reason is that he is deathly afraid of the mom.  The second reason is that the discipline happened by accident.

There are no other reasons.  A dad may tell you he's got the children's best interests at heart when he makes them do their 15 minutes of homework before letting them play nine hours of Wii.  Even though they actually have nine hours of homework, which they "finished" in 15 minutes.  In reality, however, the dad is terrified of what the mom will say (and do) when she finds out that Wii was played without the homework being done.

The wisest of dads figure out early on exactly where the line is between frustrated mom-sighs and apoplectic rage explosions.  We can live with frustrated mom-sighs.  In fact, most husbands are entirely inured to frustrated mom-sighs since they occur almost every time a grizzled veteran mom encounters her husband.

Moms don't understand how dads can go through life appearing carefree and happy.  Here's the secret:  Dads are genetically incapable of understanding that something is undoubtedly about to go horribly wrong with the children.  Doughnuts for breakfast?  Moms see scurvy and rotten teeth.  Dads see happiness.  Video games?  Moms see a short community college stint followed by years of unemployable drifting.  Dads see development of eye-hand coordination, problem solving, and bonding time--along with happiness.

For all you new dads out there just beginning to understand this concept:  the trick is in finding that point where you do just enough.  Doughnuts for breakfast... with sausage and juice, maybe.  Video games after homework is "done."  If you can master the skill of doing just enough to keep from being run through with the meat thermomether, then you have a great career ahead of you in public service.


Stephen Parrish said...

You realize, of course, you are coming dangerous close to revealing dad secrets, particularly how to get out of household chores by feigning gross incompetence. I don't want my wife reading this post, and frankly I think it should be password protected against all female eyes. Please post more responsibly in the future.

PJD said...

What do you mean, "feigning" gross incompetence?

Stephen Parrish said...

Sorry, I lost my head.

Merry Monteleone said...

He doesn't have to hide this from femal viewers, we already know when our husbands are employing passive aggressive nitwittery to get out of something. Sometimes we find it cute and endearing. Sometimes we get even. My methods tend to fall into the second camp... (something tells me Stephen is never letting me meet his wife :-)

By the way, I LOOOOVE that Bill Cosby bit... it's one of my all time favorites.

jjdebenedictis said...

The first and most important reason is that he is deathly afraid of the mom.

LOL. There is a deep and universal truth in this.

PJD said...

Merry, I don't think it's passive aggressive nitwittery. I think it's just a genetic predisposition not to see things in the same way moms do. Don't judge us for something we can't control.

JJdB: Yes, the truth is deep and pure.