Contributed by Nadia Persun, PhD
I was so angry at him this morning, after our senseless spurt of fighting at 8 am. We both leave for work stewing over our prideful sense of self righteousness, without releasing any words of apology. I, being right of course, solemnly promise myself to carry my bellyache forever, if needed, but not apologize first. During my drive to work, I can’t help but conduct in my head an amateur ping pong match of the two opposing teams: his good versus bad points.
Wham! His good quality number one: very funny. He makes me laugh at things, at myself, and at him. He has that amazing ability to take himself seriously but does not impose this attitude on others.
Boom! His bad quality number one: super laid back. He can switch off his brain and tune out all of the short and long term worries that permanently reside in my mind. He can just lose himself in the cushiony softness of his favorite chair, stretch out his long legs, and listen to music or watch sports. Meanwhile, droppings of the recently removed clothing articles are collapsed on the floor, shaped like little ready to erupt volcanoes. I usually pick them up, preventing spilling of lava, which of course would stem from my fury, not from a wrinkled pair of jeans on the floor. Parents of young children, we live in a permanent state of clutter. It triumphantly stares at us from all of the corners of our house. Actually, it mainly stares and winks at me, since I am the most likely person in the house to make eye contact with it. How can he just be sitting there like a Zen Buddhist? Maybe I am just jealous.
Racket swings back. His good quality number two: loves me and thinks I am cute and smart. He picks the oddest times to tell me these nice things. He’d comment on my looks when I am still wearing my pajamas in the morning and have pillow traces on my face. Or he tells me that I am smart, knowing darn well my deadly flaw of often missing out on the crucial plot parts in a movie, so that he has to re-explain the whole story. Or he forgives the fact that I am directionally challenged. In the 10 years of our marriage, he is the one to sort out maps, deal with furniture or toy assembly instructions, and handle numbers and other nasty perks of “adult paperwork.” Personally, I find these traits of mine annoying, not charming. But he does not. Clearly, a major swing in his favor.
Bang! His bad quality number two: postpones dealing with problems until they glare right at him. Or until I glare right in his eyes, stating the problems, raising the questions, and facilitating some crisis resolution plan. I guess it’s related to him being laid back. So, I don’t know if it counts as a separate point. Maybe I have to come up with something else, quickly, or the match swings in his favor, and I have to concede and apologize first.
However, instead of a quick comeback, another major observation streams into my consciousness, and ultimately makes me lose the match: he is a great dad. My kids follow him like little ducklings. Together, they make up their own “knock knock” and other silly jokes and laugh hysterically at their dumb inventions. They also have their informal “members only” Peanut Butter/Jelly and Grilled Cheese sandwich club. Their sandwiches are made according to some specific “patented” method that makes it taste just right. I don’t know the method and could never nail the science of PBJ or grilled sandwich making. Consequently, I am mostly allowed to observe and have a bite. Many little, simple, and silly daily things. They make each other happy. In return, it makes me happy too: eavesdropping on their jokes, watching them play games, the rules of which I don’t understand, and getting over the existence of some “manly” secrets in my household, to which I am not privy. Great dad: a major point in his favor.
My ride is over. I almost miss my turn, busily summarizing the match final count and getting over being a loser. At the same time, I am drained of my fury. I no longer care to be a winner. Deep in my heart, I know that even if he were to lose at my ping pong battle, I would still keep him, and pick him all over again, despite his bad points and because of his bad points. Happy Father’s Day to him, and to all other imperfect guys out there, loving and loved.