Out Witted

When I married a man smarter than myself, I felt really proud. I had scored a coup. I had married “up”. Ever since then, I have been out-witted, out-argued, …and then charmed into compliance. But I never realized the true extent of my problems until I had children.

I first realized I was in trouble when my oldest was about 13 months old. But I need to go back further to explain. When I first realized I was pregnant, I was, to put it mildly….shocked. Children were only supposed to happen to other people. Or be way, way, off, in the future when I was old. It shouldn’t be happening to me now.

In truth, I had never envisioned myself as married, much less as married with kids, and living in the suburbs. I had planned a life that was unique, exciting, and adventurous! Its funny how life has a way of giving you what you want.

Anyway, when I realized I was pregnant I spent the first several months in severe denial. I’m eating too much, I told myself. I’ll wake up any minute now. Maybe its a psychological condition. People do have hysterical pregnancies.

By about the ninth month, I began to realize that this condition was not going to go away, and began reading about children. I was not one of those girls who ever liked babies or did any babysitting, and I was not ready for the complexities of real children. For example, when I first brought my son home from the hospital we stopped at my in-laws. There I and my husband had the pleasure of trying to change our first diaper with an audience of 10 people who had all changed multiple diapers, and who were not, under any circumstances, going to offer to help. They were willing to stand around making numerous helpful suggestions. We later got a letter from Paul’s sister that referred to “the diaper incident”.

But I did immediately set to reading everything I could get my hands on relative to child rearing. My oldest is the victim of numerous child experts. One of the books I read said to always talk to the baby, long before the baby could talk back. The purpose of this wasn’t to get your words in while you still could, but to help them learn to talk, and increase their intelligence. Although I did not actually believe this, I got in the habit of saying everything that popped into to my mind to my baby, trying to increase his intelligence by surrounding him in a cloud of inane babble. One day, when he was 13 months old, I was parking him in front of the TV set, hoping for a brief respite from entertaining him. The TV wouldn’t turn on, and I did my steam of consciousness thing.

“Gee you can’t watch TV unless its turned on. Oh, oh, the real problem is that its not plugged in. See this is the plug, I’m putting in the wall now, and now…. ”

I found out he was listening. From that day on, he was obsessed with wall sockets. We bought safely plugs and he pulled them right out. For the next several years my furniture arrangement was dictated solely by the need to put really heavy things in front of all the outlets in the house.

As the children learned to talk my problems increased. We were in the car one day discussing coffee.

“Why do you drink it if its bad for you Mom?”

“Well…I guess I just forget…”

“Every morning?!”

Maybe that’s why he came up to me one day when he was about six. It was obvious that he had something on his mind that was troubling him, something he had put a lot of thought into it, and was sure that I shouldn’t go another day without knowing.

“Mom, you know, sometimes your mind doesn’t work very well.”

As they grew older I was always impressed by their memory. None of them could remember to clean their room, do their homework, pick up their coats, wipe their feet, or wear coats out doors in the winter, but…they won every argument I ever had with them by quoting something I had said at an earlier time. I would deny it, but….it sometimes had that familiar ring, and I always lost in family court, with all the children testifying against me, and my husband coughing into his hand in the background.

I told my youngest what the subject of this article was.

“You sure won’t have to lie about this one, will you Mom!” he said, then paused…”Oh, oh, I’ve just given you a line haven’t I?”

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