No, that doesn’t mean that you have no authority and have to check everything with your mate. But with fathers taking a greater role in the house and family, it’s more likely that something’s going to occur when your mate isn’t there and that’s liable to create some hard feelings.
Some things are uncontrollable, such as first steps or first words and if you miss it, that’s life. Other things however, are controllable and some consideration is advisable. My gold standard was my eldest’s first bite of solid food, which occurred while I was in the restaurant bathroom; I returned to find that she’d been given green beans in my absence, so that I was unable to enjoy the sight of a six month old munching on a bean. It wasn’t a big deal in the great scheme of things, but it was irritating and it sticks in my craw more than a decade later.
This particular case in point is this morning’s invitation for the youngest’s first sleepover at a friend’s house. I personally have no objection and will permit it, but am going to run it past the mother to assure that she has no concerns and at least has had the courtesy of a check. And to be on the safe side, I won’t mention anything to my youngest until the matter is settled.
And that’s another story…
The different perspectives of Dad and Mom keep cropping up, this time in talking about the family transportation.
The PracticalMom asked me when I anticipated buying another car and I responded that it would probably occur in 2010. With the eldest approaching driving age, my thought process was that I’d purchase a good used vehicle for my wife, take her still-good car and let the teen use my mini-van. A win-win since my wife would get a decent vehicle, I’d get her Toyota for hauling kids and my well-used Chevy would become the fall-back.
I was surprised that she disagreed with me. Why? Why would the teen get the newer Toyota while I’m left with the older Chevy mini-van? Where’s the justice in this picture? Her response was that the Toyota has air-bags along the sides as well as in the front seats, a much safer arrangement for the new driver.
I see her point. Yet there is such a thing as the pecking order and the belief that children should wait their turn. What does it teach them that they automatically get to drive the newer, better vehicle while the parent drives the older one? Having learned on a 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, I was grateful that I at least had a car to get around in and the nicer cars were left to the parents. You want a different car, said my father, then get a job and buy one yourself. I frankly believe that my teen would be perfectly happy driving the Chevy and it is a solid vehicle with dual front airbags. So the problem is mine to own.
Do I concern myself with feeding a teen’s sense of entitlement or my own? I’m curious…
A dad’s view about life usually differs from a mom’s view, and it’s no different in this household. I will typically defer to my wife about girl issues while she defers to me about boy situations. After all, I’ve never experienced life as a girl and my wife has never had a jockstrap placed over her face in a junior high locker room (aka the japanese gasmask).
This valley was displayed in our response to eldest son’s return from a boy scout camping trip to northern Pennsylvania. His troop went to a scout’s cabin and property near the New York state line and the group dispersed to the appropriate rooms for changing and sleep arrangements. In this case, the male and female leaders got their own separate rooms while the cabin owners took another, leaving the last bedroom and it’s beds for the scouts. My son and the younger scouts were the first to the room to claim bunks with their bags and were surprised to find that the older scouts arrived and tossed said bags in the hallway. The younger scouts then had to claim sofas and floor space in the living room for the duration of the trip.
As our son explained the situation, my wife was taken aback that the older scouts could and did do this. What right do they have to just displace these boys? I could only smile and explain to my son that this was a part of life and that "rank did have it’s privileges". The reality is that upon arrival, the younger scouts disappeared to lay claim while the older boys were delayed by staying to help unload the vehicles. This was simply a group of guys’ silent way of teaching upstart youngsters that they couldn’t benefit from not helping. No complaints or arguments, just a simple action to prove a point. And while it may sound sexist, I expect that the result would have been vastly different had it been a group of girl scouts.
With fathers having a greater role in raising the kids, they’ll be there for more of the "first" moments than in the past and Mom might be missing them instead. Some of these things are unavoidable but it pays to think about those "firsts" than can be scheduled. I believe that most mothers do miss the ability to be there for these instances and it can soothe a relationship if you pay attention.
It was fourteen years ago this Thanksgiving that my eldest had her first bite of solid food. I remember this date as we were in a Naval Officer’s Club with relatives for a Thanksgiving meal with our first-born baby. She’d been making headway in readiness for solid food but it didn’t occur to me that it was that soon; I excused myself to the restroom and returned to find Mom and Mother-in-law had decided to make the leap and the baby was happily finishing up her first green bean. It wasn’t that she had taken the first bite, but the fact that the decision for this situation was made in my absence, that bothered me. You can’t exercise great control over rolling over and the first steps, but the baby didn’t put the food in her own mouth. Since then, I’ve tried to bear this experience in mind as we’ve moved forward with other firsts and other children.
A little forethought can make absence a bit more bearable for Mom.
Happy Thanksgiving and pass the green beans.