This afternoon, the fam and I went to the beautiful Northwoods Mall in Peoria to find me some new work shoes. I’ve worked at the restaurant almost a year and a half, and my shoes are completely worn out from all of the walking. I have worn through the sole to the padding, and the soles are like Michael Jordan’s head post 1986 (not sweaty, or arrogant, but bald). I love shoes, I really do, so I hate shopping for work shoes. I love colorful shoes. I love the way new shoes smell and feel on my feet. But I was shopping for all-black walking shoes. There’s nothing exciting about shopping for all-black shoes. Nothing.
Last week, my wife went shopping for a new swimsuit because she doesn’t like the one she has. Today, I went shopping for new all-black walking shoes because the ones I have are completely worn out. She found joy in her shopping. I found no joy. Her shopping was an event. Mine was a chore. And I was truly shopping, not just walking into the first store and finding the first pair of black shoes and buying them willy-nilly. No, I was going to get the best shoes for the best price. If I wasn’t going to enjoy the shoes, the least I could do was to find a deal.
At one point, as I was trying on shoes on the upper level of the mall, I sent my wife to go to another store on the lower-level to see what selection and prices they had of all-black shoes. Again, this wasn’t enjoyable for me, so I wanted to streamline the process as much as possible, as well as keep my son from either knocking all of the shoes off of the wall with the stroller or taking all of the shoes off the wall and re-arranging them (which he has done on more than one occasion). If they were occupied, there would be less time for mischief and added stress in this endeavor.
My wife is usually my polar opposite, which can be absolutely invigorating and infuriating. She thinks things are fun that I think are dumb or a waste of time or money. She thinks its fun for the kids to have ice cream on the couch, and I think its a terrible idea because my daughter is 18 months old and doesn’t know how to do anything except make a mess. But that leads me to something else. I would be a pretty boring/terrible dad if I were a single dad. I would be gruff and wouldn’t do anything that my kids thought was cool if I thought it was frivolous and a waste of money. They would listen to me and maybe respect me, but they wouldn’t know if they love me, and definitely wouldn’t identify their feelings for me as “love”. I sincerely believe that. And, it is for that reason that I love and respect my wife. That’s the reason why I submit to her frivolity sometimes.
She calls me on the phone as I am walking towards another shoe store and asks me if Obi, my almost 3-year old, can do the “trampolines”. She tells me its just $9 and he really wants to. The reason she even felt compelled to call me about this is that she knows me well enough to know I need some time to process this curve-ball. I’ve written elsewhere about how I handle surprises. I was thinking, “Cool (sarcastically), I’m so glad he wants to do the bungee cord trampolines! He will totally not freak out right when its time for him to jump and waste $9. I’m sure that this is going to end well,” and I said, “Okay.”
Now, imagine an almost 3-year old toddler, waiting in line. That might be the funniest line I’ve ever written. He’s watching and waiting as teenagers are doing quadruple back-flips while attached to bungee cords that are sending them 30-feet in the air. What is he thinking? Does he think he’s actually going to do that? Does he think that this actually looks fun? If you’ve read anything about how my son’s last month has been, you can understand that I was bracing for a freak-out session in public at any moment in the 10 minutes he was waiting for his turn.
But he didn’t freak out. He waited. He got connected to the bungee cords and started bouncing up and down. And he loved it! At the end, the worker sent Obi flying a solid 40-feet up in the air, all 28 pounds of him. He only started freaking out when he was finished.
I’m happy to be married to a wife who doesn’t think like me. My son, if it were up to me, wouldn’t have had that experience with the bungee trampolines at the mall, ever. Seriously. It’s a major waste of time and money. But he was happy. He had an experience. And through his experience, I learned that I am uptight and a tightwad who would be miserable to live with if it weren’t for my wife. I don’t know how she does it.