Friday, February 09, 2007

Five Things My Husband Never Expected...

...When He Married a Smart Chick

1. Books Everywhere: Lots of them. Lots of alternate reading materials, too. There is not one single room in the house without a stack of books. This includes bathrooms, the basement, the laundry room, the garage, the kitchen, and a few other places I have hidden books out of sheer embarrassment after realizing I have TOO MANY books. If I’m going to come clean, I may as well come really clean and admit that I have not yet succeeded in paring the sheer quantity of books down to where I can store all of them in the usual places, as opposed to just everywhere.

I know that some people, when they hear “lots of books” think of old English libraries with leather bindings and comfy chairs. That would not describe my books. I read in bed, on the couch, in the bathroom, while waiting for the washer to fill, while knitting, while cooking, and while decompressing after driving somewhere. I read when I brush my teeth and as much as possible when exercising. They are paperbacks, softbacks, hard cover, truly ratty ones of each type, and the occasional overgrown pamphlet. They are in all types of condition, most with covers and some with the cover worn completely off. I don’t really care, since I don’t “collect” them, I read them. If all the words are there, then they’re just fine to me.

Hubs is not a big reader, and at first he really couldn’t understand why I wound up with so many books. I don’t know if he understands it yet, but he accepts it at least.

2. Really Smart Kids: I’m not really sure what kind of kids my husband expected. Probably kids who were more like he was as a child – gear heads, constantly playing pranks that were sometimes dangerous or ill-advised, kids who ran all over the neighborhood playing kickball and trying to paste things on pets or something. A very snarky part of me is thinking that if he wanted that kind of kid, he should have spent more time with them when they were little. Instead, he got mini BoS kids. They have enormous vocabularies and aren’t shy about sharing.

When Bunny was a tiny, tiny tot and came into our bedroom during a thunderstorm, she woke us up by saying “WAKE UP! I’m frightened!” I replied, groggily, “huhn?” She whacked me with her stuffed rainbow trout pillow and said, “FRIGHTENED. You know, it means ‘scared’.” I’m pretty sure my husband slapped his hand to his forehead and groaned out, “Oh, God, not another one,” before going back to sleep.

Then there was the dinner incident with Spawn, several months before he started kindergarten. He had taught himself to read with those wonderful Disney books on tape and lots of being read to by Mom, and there he sat at the dinner table while Bunny threw chicken skin to the dog. His legs were swinging to and fro, far above the floor, and he was loading corn onto his plate like there would never be any more. He looked at his Dad and asked, “What’s a chalice?” Hubs stopped with a mouthful of chicken and looked at him in astonishment. “A what?” he asked. “A chalice,” replied Spawn, waiting for an answer. They both looked at me. “A goblet type drinking vessel,” I replied. “Oh, OK, thanks,” said Spawn and went back to packing his maw with corn.

Hubs gave me the look. The “I can’t believe these are children, and how the hell did you know that, and why does he want to know???” look.

I answered the look, “He’s been reading the Grimm’s Unabridged Fairy Tales book,” I said, “How far have you gotten, Spawn?” “I’m done. I just wasn’t sure what a chalice was,” he replied.

3. Strange Food: I am adventurous with food and have been for as long as I can remember. When we first got married, my husband liked things from boxes, bags and cans, and anything that needed to be sectioned, stewed, or didn’t have some component with a copyright label on it was not actually edible in his opinion. I think this might really have been due to the fact that his parents were the same way, but he blames my food adventures it on my curious mind.

I admit, I’ve made some mistakes. The raisin and rice stuffing was a disaster, especially when the turkey had not completely defrosted. I had a few mutant cakes until I got a stand mixer. Some of my homemade candy attempts were questionable, however, I’ve always been pretty good at soup. Hubs does not believe that soup from something other than a can really counts as soup.

For example, early in our marriage, I found out that hubs likes Scotch Broth. He wanted it from a can. I’d never had it before, so I tried it and liked it. Naturally, to me, that meant I read the ingredients label, eliminated everything of the preservative nature, and tried to replicate it. The first night was lamb stew, which was kind of heavy and hubs only ate a dab of it. The next night, it was thick lamb soup, and by the third night, it tasted just like (insert famous canned soup maker name) Scotch Broth to me. He said the lamb chunks were too big and there were too many vegetables.

So, next time it looked like soup weather, I made chili. Nope, no good, not from a can. Also not acceptable were the homemade chicken noodle, the homemade chicken and rice, the homemade minestrone, the homemade oyster stew (which also got a thumbs down because it had FISH stuff in it), and clam chowder got ruled out before I even had a chance to make it.

We duked it out, sort of, compromising with the occasional foray into stuff I can’t stand intermingled with stuff he can’t stand. Then we had kids, and they liked the stuff I cooked. He knew he needed to set a good example, so he would, manfully and with good cheer, eat chicken stew with home made dumplings, and broccoli. He has tried curried chicken, but he draws the line at things in aspic and frou-frou girly salads. He even tried bouillabaisse, didn’t like it, but decided to try it. He has found out that his friends envy him his homemade dinners and tasty, fresh foods. They complain about only getting stuff from boxes and bags and cans.

4. Really Smart Kids – Part Two: When smart kids take standardized tests, they get outstanding scores. I never truly realized that there are few students who routinely score in the 99th percentile until my kids started bringing high scores home, and hubs reacted to them. He wanted to celebrate, to give them things for doing such a great job. I pointed out to him that they didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, they were just themselves. I think he felt like I had taken the wind out of his sails. I told him to be as happy for them as he wanted to be, but to understand that this is part of the way they are, and that making too big a deal out of it might spook them or cause them to be smug or arrogant.

When Spawn’s ACT and PSAT results came in, hubs sat down in the living room, mouth agape and said, “I’ve never heard of anyone getting a score like this before.” I took a couple of deep breaths and replied, “I did,” and just looked at him. “These are going to open a lot of doors for him,” he said. “Yes,” I said. Hubs looked at me for a very long moment. “Thank you,” he said. “You’re welcome,” I answered.

5. The Yarn Thing Run Amok: I have to try everything. My curiosity is a rampaging, ravaging beast, and that extends to yarn stuff. I have probably got at least one of every size knitting needle made, and one skein each of a significant percentage of the yarn obtainable in the US today.

It took a few years before my yarn monster showed up – I was working and didn’t have much time to knit, and it wasn’t in vogue, and sometimes I just get tired of explaining why I like the things I like. Hubs was a little surprised when he found out I knew how to knit and crochet. He was really surprised when he found out how well and how quickly I could knit and crochet. He was even more surprised when I started buying yarn in afghan-sized lots.

I don’t think hubs expected to find half-finished projects in every major room in the house. He does like the extra-long afghans to cover his feet while he’s watching TV, and he loves his balaclava and wool socks for when he’s using the snow blower.

He’s actually been pretty nice about the whole knitting thing – he likes seeing the kids in hand made sweaters, hats, mittens, etc., and he thinks they were extra cute when they were little, rolling around in the snow in a rainbow of colors. I don’t think he expected so very much yarn and so very many knitted things, though.

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