Tag Archives: Fight Week

Fight Week: Making Up

Fight Week: Making Up

In the back of my head, during pretty much every fight I have, there’s a part of me thinking: “This is going to be great when we finally get it resolved.”

Every fight I have with my wife, I mean.

We don’t like to fight, even though you’d think so if you were our wall-sharing neighbors. But we do like to make up, which you’d know if you were our wall-sharing neighbors.

Ahem.

We fight about the typical things: bills, insurance, spending habits, what we can afford, our credit card. It’s pretty much all about money. Sometimes we’ll fight about other stuff, but cash and what to do with our general lack of it is the big one.

We’re doing OK, as far as people do—especially when you compare us to most of the rest of the world. But what we’ve got coming in determines who of us works and how often, and where we live, and what we eat—and all that stuff may sound like what we’re fighting about, but underlying all of it is the bottom line.

But under even that is the understanding that this fight will be temporary—much, much, much shorter than my marriage to this amazing woman. On the geologic scale of our relationship, one fight isn’t even the Holocene. It’s the complete series of Firefly compared to an epoch. Except Firefly is awesome, and fighting isn’t.

I got lost somewhere in that metaphor. Actually, I got lost somewhere in this overall post.

My point is that we’ll work the money stuff out. And we’ll get through our communication issues. Because we told each other we would more than nine years ago. We told each other we’d keep working at this—even the hard stuff.

So after a fight—even a big one—we like to remember that commitment. And if we’re good at fighting, we’re really good at making up.

On a totally unrelated topic, prostates and testicles are awesome, don’t you think? (Yes, this is unrelated.) But cancer isn’t awesome at all. Check out what’s happening on my face this Movember.

And check out Firefly if you haven’t seen it.

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Fight Week: Highly Logical

Fight Week: Highly Logical

I’ve really, honestly, in real life ended a fight with my wife by saying this: “And that proves why you should no longer be angry.”

Actually, I’ve tried ending a fight by saying that. Not surprisingly, those words didn’t go over well. In fact, they just made things worse.

Which I didn’t understand. OK, OK. If I’m being honest, I’ll admit that I still kinda don’t understand.

Though I am not afraid to let my emotions show, my most logical self is the one who tends to show up during an argument. This is the self who really focuses on word choice. Who demands precision. Who will walk my verbal sparring partner (aka spouse) from Point A, through Point B, to Point C in an effort to convince her that her tears or anger or disappointment have no factual foundation.

“See, Honey?” I’ll say. “You only thought that was what happened. But it didn’t really! All that frustration was over nothing!”

I also try this on my children: my volatile 6-year-old and my clingy 4-year-old. Because little kids are ready to listen to reason when they’re convinced their sibling is getting the bigger scoop of mint chip.

Not surprisingly, my wife feels I come across as smug and condescending when we’re having a disagreement. I get that, sure. But when I state, “No, I’m not being condescending at all!”—because in my heart, I know my motivation for my words is not condescension, but enlightenment, which is really what counts, right?—I’m still a bit baffled when she doesn’t immediately agree with me and do an immediate emotional 180.

This isn’t to say that I don’t get emotional when we fight—or at other times—but when I do, I have a grounded, empirical reason for it.

I’m learning, though—I’m starting to learn—that not everybody thinks the way I do. It only took me 18 years of living with my parents, six or seven years of living with roommates, and nine years of living with my wife—six of those with an increasing number of children—to begin to learn that there are more world views in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in my philosophy.

So I’m working on listening: to my wife, to my kids, to everyone around me who just doesn’t get it the way I do. Because maybe my belief that I don’t always have to be right—I just am—is wrong.

My wife suggested that I end this post by asking, “What are you wrong about?” But she doesn’t get that people won’t want to answer that, at least not on my blog. Right?

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Fight Week: Worry Wednesday: The Spiders

Fight Week: Worry Wednesday: The Spiders

I only recently learned about brown widows, which are like black widows, but are, you know, brown. They’re apparently just as toxic as—if not more so than—black widows, but they deliver less of their venom when they bite, putting them on the gentler, friendlier branch of the “I can hurt or kill you if I feel like it” tree. They’re practically cuddly.

I’d been periodically finding these brown spiders around and in our house—behind a barrel on our patio or tucked into the corner of our kitchen window—but I didn’t care much about them since they obviously weren’t black.

Then I stumbled upon this article, which explained that brown widows are taking over in Southern California and elsewhere in the country. I’d never heard of widows of that color, but I went and checked the webs of the spiders I’d been spotting; they were thick, tough, and haphazardly spun, just like a black widow’s.

I was historically a live-and-let-live sort of person when it comes to things that share our home. My pattern has been to scoop wayward house spiders into cups and dump them outside, but that benevolent attitude has faded since I became a parent. I don’t like things threatening my kids—not directly, not indirectly.

Now I swat flies, because I don’t want them landing on my kids’ food and spreading their fly foot-germs. I’ve been doing the same with moths, because I sometimes find little holes in our clothes. (This, admittedly, isn’t so life threatening.) And I’ve been fighting with spiders.

I took out the little one in the corner of the window. A couple of weeks later, a new one had set up a home. So I took that one out, too. Another one replaced it.

I figured there was a nursery nearby, which led me to discover the big brown widow behind the barrel on our front porch, which sits just below the kitchen window. Aha!

But then there was the garage. I’d noticed a particularly thick web in the corner of a window out there, but it was too high up and out of the way for a casual check. I got out a ladder and swiped at some of the web. Classic widow tensile strength. (I think that’s a thing. It just sounded like the right thing to say here.)

I’m not usually a poison person—because of the live-and-let-live thing, and because we have kids in the house, and because I believe there are often natural remedies for stuff—but I wanted this brown widow gone for good.

So I got out a jug of bug spray and squirted the window. Small spiders began running out, and I took care of those with a piece of broken picture frame—a modified weapon I hastily pulled from the trash when I realized the spray wasn’t cutting it and my bare fingers weren’t going to step in. Then what looked like a good-sized black widow ran out from near the top of the window. Picture frame again.

Finally, the eight-legged motions stopped. I still hadn’t seen the main beast, the Shelob I’d seen lurking up there before, so I swiped the jagged frame edge through the thick of the web. A big, round, brown quarter-sized spider dropped out, and I squished it. The whole thing was gross. My skin crawled for the rest of the day.

Plus, in the process, I got a little of the bug spray on my left hand, which I washed off. Repeatedly. Repeatedly repeatedly. It’s more than three days later as I write this, and I still haven’t put my wedding ring back on. It’s been soaking in a disposable cup.

I should have been wearing gloves, I know, but I told myself that I’m such a worrier, I should just get the job done without excessive precautions. And after I accidentally got some of the pest poison on my hands, I told myself not to freak out.

But after my shower, and my repeated questioning of my wife—”Do you think I’m OK? The label said it’s possible to absorb this stuff through your skin. Did I do the right thing by spraying it?”—she told me to call Poison Control.

“I’m not that worried,” I said. “Not really. I mean, I know I’ll be fine.”

Then I called Poison Control and the man at the other end of the line told me I’d be fine.

I sort of believed him.

(A note to those who were waiting for there to be a huge spider on my head, based on the illustration: Chekhov’s rule only applies to guns.)

 

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Fight Week: Siblings

Fight Week: Siblings

I’m an only child.

Ah, some of you are saying. That explains it.

Oh, come on. The only thing it explains is my complete surprise at how siblings interact day to day.

When I was little, my parents periodically checked on me to see if I was doing OK with being what the French call un fils unique. But they didn’t want to be direct for some reason—maybe they were worried they’d bias me toward wanting a little brother or sister based on their word choice—so they came in at an angle, asking me how many kids I wanted to have when I grew up. My unfailing answer: 13.

Them: Why?
Me: So they don’t get lonely.
Them: Are you lonely?
Me: No.

Repeat every half a year or so. Even as a little kid, I was messing with their heads.

But I did enjoy being an only child. I could do what I wanted when I wanted—within reason, of course—and I never had to share my toys or take turns or anything. Two of my lifetime best friends—brothers who lived on my street—were literally seconds away from my house, and I could play with them at a moment’s notice, then leave or watch them go home when I felt like it. They were like brothers I could shut off when I was ready to be an only child again.

Now with three kids of my own—two of whom seem to have looked up “sister behavior” in the Really Big Book of Familial Cliches—I’m routinely dumbfounded by the way my children act toward each other.

My girls—one 6, one 4—go from cuddling to screeching in less time than it takes to say, “Who wants hot cocoa?” They both want the same mug. They want to race to the kitchen. They make up the rules as they’re running from the couch where they had just been reading while snuggled in a blanket—rules that give the rule-maker an advantage and declare what the winner gets to do, how much cocoa she gets, which prizes she’ll receive, how she’ll get to help me pour the milk or scoop the chocolate. They push and grab at each other in an effort to win their made-up contest. And then someone gets hurt. And then someone cries. And then someone shouts.

And then one gets the other an icepack from the freezer and delivers a mumbled apology. Or starts freaking out more. It depends on the day.

They freely share clothes and compliment each other on their fashion sense, except when they’re angrily accusing each other of stealing outfits. The older one frequently goes out of her way to say how bad the younger one looks in certain ensembles. I thought this sort of dialog only happened in sitcoms to convey family strife that can be overcome with a few words of wisdom after 23 minutes of hilarious tension.

They bicker over who gets to wash their hands first, and then they either patiently take turns or a fight breaks out. They each complain that the other isn’t doing any work when they’re cleaning their room; such complaints are often delivered listlessly from the floor. Glasses of juice and milk have to be exactly even, as do slices of cake, bowls of soup, and rounds of Plants vs. Zombies played on the iPad.

I have never before met two people who seem to love and anger each other so thoroughly. The little one tattles, which is behavior we’re discouraging, although the habit does alert us to the older one’s often ill-thought-out and dangerous antics. We make allowances for tattling if the tattler makes the house a safer place via the tattling, but that’s a fine line to walk with a 4-year-old, who still sort of equates tattling with lying, and so maintains she’s not tattling when she says her sister stuck her tongue out at her. “But it’s true!” she insists when we tell her to deal with it herself.

The older one can be quite mean to her little sister, but her little sister often relentlessly copies her—another behavior I thought had been made up by uncreative TV writers—and goes out of her way to push the exact buttons to get a big reaction. These are the sorts of buttons only someone who knows you intimately can push.

I don’t think I will ever truly understand what it’s like to be stuck with someone who shares your parents with you. All I can do is stand back and watch. And referee. And call my wife in to look when I peek in their room at night to see the girls sharing a bed, holding hands in their sleep.

Did you fight with your siblings? Or are you lucky like me? (Or did you wish you had a dozen brothers and sisters?)

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Fight Week: Veterans Day

Fight Week: Veterans Day

My 6-year-old daughter has a particular interest in military holidays. While we’ve sometimes forgotten about fireworks on the 4th of July, we’ve made a point over the last several years to visit the nearby cemetery for Memorial Day services. This is the same cemetery where she’s waved at kids we can’t see, but it’s a different section, across a busy street—which, apparently, ghost children won’t cross, because she’s never indicated seeing anyone her age running around this particular stretch of headstone-dotted grass.

My daughter enjoys the Memorial Day music and ceremony. Maybe it’s because our schedules and home and lives are so chaotic, there’s an appeal to the order of a military operation. Everything is crisp: the salutes, the barked orders, the folds in the immaculate uniforms, the flag snapping in the breeze.

Veterans Day has caught her attention, too, particularly since she learned that her grandpa, my dad, served in the U.S. Air Force, as therefore is a veteran. She was blown away a couple years back when she learned that. To her, it was like finding out she’s related to the St. Patrick’s Day leprechauns. I think she used to think of veterans as semi-mythical beings—and was probably disappointed that they didn’t magically steal into and out of our house at night on Nov. 11 to leave presents, like little stars-and-stripes lapel pins.

She doesn’t understand war—who does, really?—but she’s also very interested in combat and death, so she wanted to know whether she could visit Grandpa Fish, as she calls him (because my parents have a fish tank and often go fishing), so he could teach her how to properly use a sword.

My dad’s main weapon was actually Morse Code, which he intercepted and translated while stationed in the Philippines during the Vietnam War.

As a kid, I could never remember whether my dad served during the Vietnam or Korean War, probably because we watched reruns of M*A*S*H a lot, and it was set in Korea.

Actually, as a kid, I had a hard time grasping that my dad had any kind of life before I came along. I wouldn’t have put it this way then, but I think it’s because he wasn’t my dad before that. He wasn’t anybody’s dad. He was just a guy, like me.

I’m older now—much older—than my own dad was when he was memorizing, then living and breathing the “da di da dit” sounds he would make when talking about his post years later. As a kid—even a teenager—I couldn’t imagine my dad as being my age. And really, he didn’t exist as my dad until after I was born. My arrival changed him into something new, as my children’s births transformed me.

He’s never taught my daughter how to use a sword. He’s never taught her Morse Code, either, but he and Grandma Fish have taught her how to fish, and she caught her first trout this past summer on an annual family camping trip.

That’s the veteran she knows, and I’m thankful for him. She is, too, as she was sad that we live five hours away, because she wanted to give him a hug on Veterans Day.

I did too.

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