Archive for the ‘Questions’ Category

I keep feeling the weight of all the accumulated CRAP we have in our house. It lives mainly in the basement, and it’s pulling at me. It’s very heavy.

Some days, I think about donating it all… and probably I will end up going that route because I am lazy efficient and charitable.

But other days, I think about throwing a garage sale. Making a few cents off all the much-loved stuff that’s no longer useful for anything except jamming up our basement.

We have books, artwork, stereo speakers, shoes, clothing… and tons and tons of baby stuff. (Will I actually be able to give it away? UNKNOWN.)

The thing is, I have virtually no experience with garage sales. So I have no idea if it’s worthwhile. I am aware that garage sales are a lot of work. Even perusing a couple of sites with tips for a successful garage/yard sale are making me weary.

But it also maybe sounds a little fun?

If memory serves, I think one of our neighbors has a garage sale every couple of years… I wonder if I could team up with her? That would be good for multiple reasons, not the least of which she could just tell me how she does things. But I wouldn’t even know how to broach the subject… do I call her? Go knock on her door? (We see each other maybe three times a year in the wild.)

Do you think my husband would be up for it? (My guess is no.)

How do I know if I have enough stuff? Or the right kind of stuff? We have a lot of random stuff: like an unopened box of Brita water filters, some old sippy cups that Carla no longer uses, some ancient roller skates, my husband’s childhood collection of Ghostbusters action figures. That’s just a sampling.

And how do I make sure that I’m Well Prepared – with tables and labels and signage and stuff – without spending more on Preparations than I’d make from the sale?

And what in the WORLD am I going to do with Carla during this thing? I can envision her a) disappearing down the street after someone’s dog or b) crying about some old toy she hasn’t played with in years that she doesn’t want me to sell or c) going on a mad tear and knocking things over.

I wonder if any of my friends would be interested in joining forces.

I also wonder if I’m crazy to even contemplate this nonsense.



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O, Google. How mysterious are your algorithms. How perplexing are your search results.

Sometimes people wind up here after searching for some… interesting things. Sometimes, I can pinpoint exactly why they ended up here. Other times… not so much. In any event, lest these hopeful web users arrive here only to be deeply disappointed (especially when it comes to the actual “doctor’s wife” stuff, which I don’t really focus on that much anymore.), I am going to try to address some of the questions they raise.


How to dress like a doctor wife/how should a doctor wife dress

This is one of the most common searches that leads people here. And only the gods of Google understand why that is, considering that I am no Snappy Dresser. Right now, I am wearing a Sports Team T-shirt and some skinny jeans, no socks. I might throw on a sweater if I get cold. When I pick up Carla from school, I will slip on my new sneakers.

In my previous work-from-home life, I wore mainly pajamas. But now that I have to see real live people twice a day, I try to shower and wear actual clothing. Sometimes I do throw on my workout clothes for drop off, but whatever; athleisure is IN.

I don’t think there’s any specific way to dress like a doctor’s wife. You should dress the way you feel comfortable. I mean, if you’re going to a work function with your spouse, maybe you’d dress up a little? I have gone to exactly two (2) work functions with my husband, both holiday parties, so I don’t have a whole lot of experience on that front.


Joanne pronunciation/Joan pronunciation/Joan + pronunciation/pronunciation of name Joan/how to pronounce Joan/Joanne meaning with pronunciation/how to pronounce joan vs john/is it joan or joanne?/how to pronounce joanne in english

The number of people trying to figure out the difference between “Joanne” and “Joan” is truly staggering. And it makes me feel a little guilty for being so hard on them in this post on the topic. Apparently it is trickier than I originally imagined. (Although I maintain that if you are taking someone’s name – on the phone or at a coffee shop – and you write down the name that you heard, you should be able to pronounce it again later. If I say “Joanne” and you think that’s spelled “Joan,” you should still pronounce it like “Joanne.”)

Anyway, the answer is:

Joanne is pronounced like joe-ANN. Rhymes with “so TAN.”

Joan is pronounced like JONE. Rhymes with “bone” and “tone” and “cone.”

These are not actual phonetic renderings, partly because I don’t know how to do that and partly because I think the “Joan” one would confuse those looking for a differentiation between “Joan” and “John.” 


How to be a doctor’s wife/ How to have doctor wife ? / Marrying a doctor wife

Marry a doctor (or someone training to be a doctor). It’s that simple.

Also, maybe ask yourself before you jump into this WHY you are doing it. If it’s for the big bucks, maybe think again.


My husband feels like I am condescending/condescending wife/husband is condescending

Soooooo, I am not exactly qualified to give advice about this — outside of this one specific example. But I would say, talk to your spouse. In the moment, if you can be calm. Or later, when you’re not feeling angry and both of you are able to pay attention. Tell them, “When you say X, I feel like you’re being condescending. That makes me feel bad/angry/annoyed/like I have to be super careful about how I talk/act.”

If your spouse tells you s/he feels like you are condescending, listen. Ask questions. “When do you feel that way? Can you give me a specific example?” Also, maybe try apologizing? Something like, “I’m so sorry you felt that way. I didn’t intend to be condescending. I will work on my tone/how I phrase things in the future.” Or, if there’s something that frequently makes you respond to your spouse in a way s/he finds condescending, think about why you react that way. Is there something you can change about your response? Is there something you can ask your spouse to change?

If talking isn’t working, consider couples therapy.

Whatever you do, keep in mind that mutual respect is really, really important to a healthy marriage.


I just had a bag of popcorn and it may have been rancid 

That sounds dreadful. The only remedy is copious amounts of Easter candy.


My big fat ass/ my big fat ass doctor

Congratulations on your/your physician’s juicy booty.


I accidentally used my brother’s toothbrush/ accidentally shared toothbrush/how gross is it to use someone elses toothbrush

My post about a traumatic childhood incident is surely to blame for all these searchers being directed here.

You have my deepest sympathies. All the things I’d WANT to do (bleach! fire! decapitation!) seem more likely to result in death than remediation, so I’d advise against them. You will probably survive. But the trauma may linger, perhaps for decades.



Okay, Internet. Any questions you need me to answer?

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Our trip to visit my parents is coming up, and with it four very long flights on an airplane. Carla has a tablet for just this kind of occasion (also for going out to restaurants when her parents cannot stand the thought of cooking/washing dishes), and so I am on the lookout for some new apps. Is it apps? Suddenly that’s making me think of appetizers. Or aps? It’s not apse, I know that. (Although I still couldn’t tell you which is the apse and which is the transept or how they are related except by “church.”)

Carla’s favorite apps include:

Toca Pet Doctor (My husband and I recently got into a nearly-heated discussion about why it’s “pet doctor” instead of “vet.” My husband’s explanation is that the “healing” has nothing whatsoever to do with veterinary medicine. My retort is that nor does it have anything to do with any sort of “doctoring.”)

Toca Pet Doctor.jpg

(Image from Tocaboca.com)


Toca Hair Salon

Toca Hair Salon

(Image from appsplayground.com)


Sago mini Ocean Swimmer

Sago Ocean Swimmer

(Image from googleplay.com)


Sago mini Road Trip

Sago Road Trip

(Image from itunes.com)


Dr. Panda Restaurant

DrPanda Restaurant

(Image from smartappsforkids.com)


Dr. Panda Airport – I love this one because it requires simple counting and number/letter recognition, as well as understanding of matching concepts. Plus it’s fun.

DrPanda Airport

(Image from topbestappsforkids.com)


Sago mini Toolbox

Sago Toolbox

(Image from gabdar.com)

We also have Sago mini Monsters, but I don’t know if she’s ever played it. It seems a little simplistic. And we have Toca Boo, which Carla likes in concept (scaring people while dressed as a ghost), but is a little advanced for her, so she gets bored quickly.And there was a Sago mini Friends app we had on our ancient second-gen iPad, which Carla loved as well.

We are always on the lookout for fun apps for Carla. Especially if they are free or very low-cost. Any apps that your toddler loves?


Brushing Teeth

Speaking of apps, I was thinking that it would be SO GREAT if there were an app that was connected digitally to a child’s toothbrush. The image on the screen would be of a mouth with lots of gunk on the teeth. And the child would be able to remove the gunk by brushing his/her own teeth. AND the gunk would come off only after two minutes of brushing. HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE?

Because brushing teeth is becoming a HUGE power play around here. My husband and I have exhausted our collective creativity on the subject. For a while, Carla liked being A Big Girl and brushing her teeth. For a short while, she liked me or her father to brush her teeth for her. For a short while, she would “compete” with one of us to see who could brush their teeth most quickly. For a shorter while, she accepted the dentist’s recommendation that we be the ones to brush her teeth. There were a few days when she would enthusiastically “teach” her baby doll or one of her stuffed animals to brush their teeth by watching her. Of course, my husband or I had to narrate the entire time. There were a few days when she thought it was hilarious for me to brush her teeth while she had her thumb in her mouth. Then two thumbs. Once in a while, she will brush her teeth to a toothbrushing song or video on YouTube. Lately, I have been allowing her to watch Elmo videos while I brush her teeth.

Every day, it’s something new. You never know whether she’ll be game for whatever stupid game you’ve dreamed up or you’ll end up feeling like a teakettle about to boil over.

It’s a NIGHTMARISH ORDEAL, is what I’m saying.

HOW in the WIDE WIDE WORLD do you get a stubborn, control-enthusiast toddler to brush her teeth?


Eating (again)

Last night for dinner, Carla had two tablespoons of peanut butter and 12 slices of pepperoni.

I mean.

She can’t SURVIVE like this, right? How is she surviving?

As usual, I served her a meal that had a variety of things. AND, the variety was things that she LIKES and has eaten with gusto in the past. (Read: no guarantee she will ever eat again.) I gave her fish sticks (with plenty of ketchup), cheesy noodles, and cheesy broccoli. But no. She put a tiny bite of fish stick into her mouth and then spat it out. “I don’t LIKE it,” she said, beseechingly. SIGH.

She asked for rice off of my plate, then didn’t eat it.

We THREATENED. She has presents to open from the party this weekend, and we said she MUST eat three fish sticks in order to open them. Nope. Nothing more than the teeny little taste that came right back out.

So. Peanut butter and pepperoni it is.

She used to be GREAT about yogurt. And I felt fine with giving her a (whole milk, full fat) yogurt anytime, anywhere. But now she is finicky and not interested. Oh! That DOES remind me that she and I made some yogurt “popsicles” that I should try and get her to eat.

Breakfast used to be a fair guarantee that she’d eat: a pancake or two, a French toast stick or two, plus some fruit, plus an applesauce pouch, plus a yogurt pouch. Lately? She’ll eat a handful of berries, a bite of a starch… and some Cheez Its.

This morning she had twelve Frosted Mini Wheats (she’s very into counting things; there were 20 to begin with, and it took about 890 minutes to eat the twelve and then we were late) and about a half cup of blackberries and raspberries. And an applesauce pouch in the car.

And that’s the other thing. Meals drag. On. For. Ever. I wake her up at 7:00, and we’re “eating” by 7:15… but it takes until 8:30 to be done. And even then, it’s only by setting timers and urging her to KEEP EATING FTLOG and then we have to be finished even if she’s not done. Dinner time is a series of ups and downs and “I need water” and “I need a spoon” “no a different spoon” “no a BIG GIRL spoon” and “I have to go potty” until we strap her into her booster seat. And then it’s eating nothing and trying small bites and arguing and wheedling and negotiating until finally I set the timer for bath time. And then she wants something else! That she doesn’t eat! And something else! And something else! Until I am ready to throw in the towel and all the bedsheets and a canopy besides.

I know – I know – that EATING is one of the few ways she can exert control over her universe. But it is driving me mad. MAD.

And also nervous. Because how is she surviving? She eats less than a bird.

Do I just… continue along this path – offering good food, then when she refuses it, give her an alternate option? (And please keep in mind that I asked her what she wanted for dinner – between two options – and she chose fish sticks so it’s not like I haven’t tried THAT tack.) I cannot put her to bed hungry. I know it’s an option, and it’s one that we’ve tried. But it just doesn’t work for us.


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Internet, I need your advice.

(Let’s be honest, I need your advice about a LOT of things. I get into a panic about pretty much All Things Baby. But let’s start with one simple question and… see where that takes us.)

When planning for our nursery, my husband and I knew that we would want a chair of some sort for reading and breastfeeding and general cuddling-and-shushing purposes.

We went into the nursery-planning process with the idea that we would buy as much transitional furniture as possible. We have a guest room established, and an office, so we figure this will be The Baby’s Room for… until The Baby has turned into The Sullen Teenager.

We (or actually my far-too-kind-and-generous parents) got a crib that is one of those “Lifetime Sleeping Apparatus” things that adjusts to a toddler bed and then can be easily converted into a full-size bed down the road.

(Here is where I say that I only ever had a twin bed, and so did my husband, and we both turned out FINE and clearly we are already spoiling the stuffing out of this kiddo.)

Instead of a “real” changing table, we (again, my wonderful parents) got a dresser that has a changing table attachment. That way, the kiddo will transition nicely over the years from diapers and burp rags to snarls of underwear and mismatched socks and Whatever-the-Kids-Wear-in-the-Future.

(Here is where I say that the prospect of having a teenager never really entered into my initial I Want a Baby thinking, and the whole thing kind of renders me gape-mouthed and stunned.)

(Not stunned enough to stop typing. I’m sorry.)

We wanted to apply the same “transitional” thinking to our choice of chair. So we found a beautiful arm chair at Pottery Barn Kids that starts life as a glider and has feet you can install down the line (sold separately) to transform it into a regular old armchair.

Here is the armchair:


This is the color we'd want. Probably we'd have to enrobe it in plastic or something though, right? To protect it from spit up ETCETERA? (Photo from PotteryBarnKids.com)

This is the color we’d want. Probably we’d have to enrobe it in plastic or something though, right? To protect it from spit up ETCETERA? (Photo from PotteryBarnKids.com)

Isn’t it lovely, Internet?

Of course, it also comes with a price tag that will make you consider taking up carpentry just so you can build your own chair instead.

But, honestly, I have no idea what to pay for a stupid glider, and it seems comparable in price to other gliders out there.

I shared our choice with a few people, and one mom suggested that such a sinky, comfy chair might pose difficulties whilst holding a sleeping baby. Namely, that it might be difficult to RISE from the chair with a baby in my arms.

Sounds reasonable, and it was something I hadn’t thought of. I didn’t have any spare babies lying around, but the next time I was in the area, I stopped by the PBK and sat in the chair with my purse cradled in my arms (football hold style) and tried to get up. It wasn’t… impossible. But it wasn’t… easy.

Then again, I’m not sure it would be easy EVER. In any kind of chair. Barring a chair that could mechanically stand me up and push me out of it, that is.

My stomach muscles aren’t really working as well as they have in the past, after all.

Otherwise, the chair was still lovely: comfortable, with thick padded arms and that nice rocking feature. There’s an optional ottoman you can get with it (for another arm and a leg). The wingback style is nice because you can rest your head against the “wings” and take a little snooze. I mean, that’s what happens when you stagger out of bed in the middle of the night to feed your child, right? Snoozing? What do I know.

Anyway, once I had the idea planted in my head that this chair maybe wasn’t ideal, I started looking around.

The first thing I noticed was that these armchair-style gliders are POPULAR.

(And expensive.)

In fact, it’s difficult to find NON-armchair type gliders. At least in the three stores we visited. Which… please don’t make me go to more stores. The three I’ve visited are overwhelming enough.

But the stores/websites I visited had another style of glider that seemed, well, less popular but still not unusual (this one is also from Pottery Barn Kids):


I also really love the side table here. And the color scheme. And the wall.

I also really love the side table here. And the color scheme. And the wall. (Photo from PotteryBarnKids.com)

My husband and I tried a few of them at non-PBK stores. While I don’t mind them, he is not a big fan. And even I have to admit: most of them are kind of ugly. (I know, I know – personal preference and all that.)

But, while they are still ridiculously expensive, they are LESS expensive than the PBK armchair.

My husband points out, however, that this version of glider is much less flexible in terms of Future Use. It would always be a glider. (I grew up in a house with a glider in the living room, so it seems like a perfectly normal piece of living room furniture, but I think it screams Baby’s Room! to my husband.)

And then another mom pointed out that THIS version of glider has lots of moving parts. Which would be dangerous for little fingers.

So now I have visions of our poor baby’s mangled hands floating through my already-anxiety-addled brain.

It seems like there is a third version: the Straight-Up Rocking Chair.


The least expensive option, but still not FREE.

The least expensive option, but still not FREE. (Teeny tiny photo and giant chair name both from Overstock.com)

But Internet… I don’t know.

This chair looks functional.I don’t find it… UNattractive.

It just… I just can’t picture hours of cuddling in that chair with my baby. I can’t picture us curling up together to read Babar’s Travels or Corduroy or Goodnight Moon. I can’t picture myself feeding a snuggly sleepy infant – comfortably – in that chair. And I certainly can’t picture myself getting a few more winks in while the baby – safely – finishes a meal.

As with all things related to babies and parenting and the seemingly endless array of Things You Just MUST Have, this glider decision is fraught with so many issues! Safety! And Comfort! And Cost Effectiveness! And Functionality! And Durability! And Other As-Yet-Unconsidered Considerations! And and and!

But YOU. You MUST have The Perfect Glider Answers to all my glider questions, right, Internet?

Here goes:

What glider did/do you use? Why did you choose it? Why did you choose NOT to get other versions? Are there options I’m overlooking here? Do you think it’s smart or foolish to try to buy furniture for the baby that will last for the next decade or so? Do/did you use your glider after the baby grew out of it? What, for the love of cupcakes, is an actual REASONABLE price to pay for a glider? And WHY, WHYYYYYY is everything baby-related SO EXPENSIVE?

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Internet, would you be so kind as to weigh in on something for me?

You see, my husband and I are at opposite ends of an issue, and I’m not sure if it’s one of those things where there is a definite right and a definite wrong, or if it’s one of those things where there’s a fat grey area in the middle, or if it’s one of those things that no one really cares about at all.

But I care. I really do. And I need you to tell me if I’m caring meaningfully… or if it’s one of those things like “all of the sudden” vs. “all of a sudden,” where I feel Very Strongly about one way, to the point where the other way grates on me a little (I just finished a book that gave me a LOT to think about, and filled my head with horrible images and the woe of a hopeless, heartless, cruelty-filled world, and yet one of the things I remember the MOST is the author’s [incorrect, I maintain!!!] usage of the phrase), even though I am 90% certain that it’s simply a matter of preference or a matter of regional variation rather than a matter of right or wrong.

(See also: the difference vs. “flick off” and “flip off;” and the difference between “pants” and “de-pants.”)

Lest I get riled right off the subject, let us move back to my original request, which is for you to weigh in on something.

Specifically, I’d like you to weigh in on food temperature.

I’ve touched on it briefly before. But I want to discuss it again, and there’s a practical reason behind my request: I’ve recently joined a breakfast-making club at my new job (my policy at least for the first few months will be to say yes to everything, because I want to become part of the team as quickly as possible, and plus, who says no to a breakfast-making club?) and so even though my assigned Breakfast Day is a few weeks hence, I am already fretting thinking about what to bring.

(Let me assure you that I have no idea whether I used “hence” correctly back there. In fact, I’m leaning toward not correctly. But I like the way it sounds there, so there it stays.) (Behold! The deterioration of the English language is before you!)

(I would also like you to know, apropos of nothing, that I am making dinner while writing this post. I’m making tacos, if you must know, because they are easy and delicious. And I am pausing in between sentences to eat freshly grated extra sharp cheddar cheese. My husband and I are at odds when it comes to cheese, too, just to be completely forthright with you. He prefers sharp while I prefer extra sharp, despite the fact that I shredded up some extra sharp for our chili last week and he didn’t know the difference. I even TOLD him that I’d done it and he ADMITTED that he didn’t notice the difference, and yet he still maintains that not only is sharp superior in flavor to extra sharp, but that it melts better, too. I am choosing to see this as very charming instead of infuriating and so have shredded two piles of cheese on the cutting board for tonight’s tacoing. The extra sharp is for me.)

(Perhaps this post would stick a little more closely to the point if I weren’t constantly pausing to stir the taco meat or stuff my face with cheese.)

So: food temperature.

The other day, I was thinking out loud about breakfast foods I could bring for my first breakfast-making club assignment, but I kept hitting on one major issue: heat.

My office is a good 30 minutes from my house, so I ruled out anything that needs to be eaten whilst piping hot. Which is… everything. Bacon. Eggs. (Ack. Especially eggs.) French toast. French toast casserole. Pancakes. Waffles. Grits. Oatmeal. (Gag.) (Are there… other breakfast foods?)

Because I firmly believe that food-that-is-meant-to-be-hot should be hot. HOT. Not warm. Not lukewarm. Not room temperature. Not cold. HOT.

That is why I do not eat cold pizza or take bites of Chef Boyardee ravioli from the can. (Double gag.) That is why I prefer to heat leftover soups and spaghetti on the stove rather than in the microwave. That is why Thanksgiving is so stressful for me: so many meant-to-be-hot items that all need to be ready (and hot) simultaneously.

But my husband avers that I am in the minority when it comes to food temperature. He, after all, doesn’t need a bowl of soup to be visibly steaming in order to enjoy it. (How? HOW does he enjoy it?) And he thinks that I am wrongly – stupidly, even – ruling out a whole list of food that most people would find completely palatable at room temperature.

To that I say ew.

(You are beginning to feel sorry for my breakfast club, aren’t you?)

But I am willing to acknowledge that my food quirks are not universal. And if I AM in the minority, well, why should my entire breakfast-making club have to pass on some perfectly good lukewarm French toast casserole just because I believe it needs to be hot or not at all?

Anyway, what I want to know is, how important is food temperature to you? Is there a range of acceptable hotness? Do certain foods have a wider hotness-spectrum than others? Which foods MUST be served piping hot and ONLY piping hot? You can extend your answers to non-breakfast food, if you like – I’d be interested anyway.

And, as long as we’re thinking about food, what would you like to eat at work on a Friday morning? (Gluten free suggestions and links to recipes would be VERY welcome.)

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You know how sometimes you read/see/hear something that reminds you of something ELSE that you meant to bring up but you forgot to?

Well, Swistle’s post yesterday about Things That Symbolize Being Elderly triggered a memory that I wanted to discuss with you.

One of the things Swistle would like to maintain forever is “a general policy of not making things harder for the mothers by acting affronted when children exist in public.”

That made me think of my grad school graduation.

(You: Uhhh… what?

Me: Hold your horses, I’ll connect the dots.)

My graduate program was teeny.  Five people, I think. (Man, you’d think grad school would have made a bigger impression. I can remember all the people in my program – from the year before and my year and the year after. But I can’t for the life of me remember who was in which year.)

So the graduation ceremony was equally teeny.  Five people (I’m going with five) and their families, some of the other students in the program, a few professors, and maybe a few friends or so.

And the ceremony was all about the five of us who were graduating. I mean, obviously.

We had a nice luncheon with a buffet and tables set all prettily and our professors (both of them) and our program director each said something nice and we each got up and read a poem. And then there were a few awards.

There was a program for the ceremony, but it was very loose. And it became clear in the first 10 minutes that the ceremony was not adhering to any particular order, certainly not the order laid out in the program.

One of the guys in my program – let’s call him Chris, which is not his name – was married and had three kids – two toddler boys and a baby girl. Chris’s wife and parents and the three kids were all there.

The boys were hyped up on the cupcakes our program office manager made for the occasion and they were kind of… giddy.  But I would still say they were being GOOD, you know? They weren’t screaming or fighting or anything. They were just playing around with some trucks or something and with each other and talking at what I suspect is Normal Toddler Volume.

But my grandmother – a dear, kind woman who flew halfway across the country to see my graduation – was a little… vexed by the kids.

My grandmother is no longer with us, unfortunately, but I remember fondly that she was always very tolerant and kind to small children. However, she was a firm believer in Children Are Seen and Not Heard and also If Children Are Heard They Should Be Whisked from the Room with Great Haste. (I have no trouble with this philosophy. I was raised by people who share this view and I turned out okay.)

(In case you missed it, this is the Dots Connecting I promised earlier on. My elderly grandmother was – sort of, in her typical kindly, un-accusing way – acting as though these children being allowed out in public was an affront to her delicate sensibilities. Which is one of those Traits of the Elderly that Swistle – and I! – hopes to avoid in old age.)

(Okay, perhaps this is a LOOSE connection. But nonetheless, the connection exists in my head.)

Now, Chris’s wife wanted to be there to see her husband get an award. (And he DID get an award!) She was probably very proud of him and possibly (although I am projecting here) relieved that he was done with graduate school and could begin the work of making a living as a poet. (Ha! Poet joke!) (Allow me to explain the poet joke: I don’t know a single poet who makes a living as a poet.) (They MUST exist. But even the poets I know who are Renowned and have attained Critical Acclaim and are Otherwise Awesome, well, they earn a living as professors. I suppose I could be WRONG, of course. I don’t have access to their bank statements or anything. Maybe they are raking in the millions from their writing alone.)

To clamber back to my original topic: Chris’s wife had a right to be there, to support her husband and to see him get an award he’d been working toward for two years of graduate school and perhaps many years beyond that. And their kids, likewise, had a right to be there, since the ceremony was open to families (reasonable extrapolation: not closed to small children). And while I fully support parents who remove screaming children from church/movies/other public events, it seems to me that there’s a Big Difference between a child who’s lost his everloving head and a child who is merely Being a Child and rolling a Tonka Big Wheels merrily over his brother’s face as his brother laughs with glee.

But my dear grandmother felt like the kids were distracting from the ceremony. Which was, well, it was true. I mean, you had to strain a little bit to hear over the kids’ chatter.

She looked at me with her kind blue eyes and an expression of bewilderment and whispered, “Why doesn’t that mom take those children outside?”

I don’t think she was WRONG to ask such a question. True, the children were being rambunctious and perhaps someone (the children’s mom or their one of their grandparents, who were also inattendance) should take them out of the room during the ceremony.

(Of course, one might also suggest that perhaps the kids shouldn’t have attended the ceremony at all, and should have remained at home with a babysitter. But what if Chris’s family didn’t have a babysitter in the budget? And what if Chris really wanted his kids there? And what if the ceremony was only an hour, tops, and it seemed unreasonable and silly to hire a sitter for such a short time? And what if they planned on taking the kids out of the room for the entire time EXCEPT for when Chris got his award, but that plan was thwarted by the poorly organized ceremony program?)

My grandmother beseeched me to say something to Chris’s wife, since I knew her. Or to Chris, since I knew him as well.

But I didn’t. I just… didn’t want to.

I felt like it would be met with guilt and upset and maybe even irritation and resentment. Plus, it wasn’t bothering ME that much – once I got used to the kids’ chattering, it was easy to sort of tune it out. So I just smiled understandingly at my grandmother and squeezed her hand tightly and, after the ceremony, listened to her gentle suggestion that, should I get married and have children someday, perhaps I would strongly consider hiring a babysitter for my kids? Or handing them off to a parent during such an event? Or having kids who are perfectly well-behaved at all times?

This happened years ago, Internet. I haven’t seen – or really even thought of – Chris since then. But I still wonder what the appropriate response was.

I kind of think my response was the appropriate one. But then again, I am a wholly non-confrontational person. So any response where I don’t have to confront people is the one I favor.

Plus, I try to remember that I don’t always know the whole situation.

I mean, maybe Chris’s wife asked Chris’s parents to stay home with the kids… and the parents got offended that THEY would have to miss the ceremony. And maybe Chris’s in-laws were never nice to Chris’s wife and never really approved of her marrying their son, so there was a lot of bad blood between them. So maybe Chris’s wife decided to drag the kids along and keep them in the ceremony the whole time on PRINCIPLE.

Or maybe Chris’s wife had a babysitter all set up and the in-laws scoffed at how RIDICULOUS it would be to pay for a sitter, or made a fuss about how the kids HAD to see their father graduate. So – in the interest of keeping the in-law waters smooth – Chris’s wife gritted her teeth and brought the kids along even though she was super embarrassed that they were being so noisy.

Or maybe Chris’s wife figured that she and Chris knew all the other graduates and that they would welcome the kids and overlook their boisterous chatter.

Or maybe they HAD hired a babysitter, but the sitter got sick/had a job interview/didn’t show or was otherwise unable to sit for the kids at the last minute, so Chris and his wife were forced to bring them even though they didn’t plan to.

Or maybe Chris’s wife was, like many people seem to be, truly oblivious to how her kids were behaving and how their behavior might impact others.

Or maybe she just figured that her little angels should be able to do whatever their little hearts’ desired.

In those last two cases, I would be mad. Because being an oblivious or overly permissive parent to the extent that it affects other people… well, I’m not a big fan of those things.

But in the other cases… You can really start to empathize with poor Chris’s wife, over-tired from being up with the baby and glad that all those years of reading poem drafts have come to something and stressed out from dealing with the in-laws and their demands and stuck in this room with some long-winded speakers, listening to five poems when she doesn’t really LIKE poetry and all she wants is to snap a photo of Chris getting his award and go home.

I just don’t think there’s a reason for me to make a fuss when I don’t know the full story and when all that’s happening is that I have to listen a little more carefully to what’s being said.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t get where my grandmother was coming from. I really believe that, had it been her, she would have a) left the kiddos at home, even if it meant staying home herself or b) sat at the very back of the room to limit the reach of their little voices or c) whisked them out the instant they made a peep, even if they did so in the middle of her husband’s acceptance. I really believe that. I think my own mother would have done the same.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that what I really want to know is:

What would YOU have done, if you were sitting there with Chris’s toddlers whooping it up behind you?

And what would you have WANTED the reaction to be, if you were Chris’s wife?

And, as long as we’re asking questions, what would YOU have done, in Chris’s wife’s case? Would you have brought your kids? Left them with a babysitter? Shoved them into the grandmother’s arms and said, “Here, YOU take them out of the room while I watch MY HUSBAND get his award?” Shrugged your shoulders and allowed your kids to be kids?

Would your answers change based on the situation? (I mean, a kid-friendly Christmas play is different from a graduation ceremony is different from a dinner at a nice restaurant and so on.)

If you recommend a friendly smile and a whispered, “Can you take the kids outside until they quiet down?” I can’t promise that’s what I’ll do in future, but I would like to know.

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So this is going to be one of those posts where I tell you about how my husband and I approach a situation differently, and you tell me which of us is right(er). (I would like to note that Temerity Jane writes posts of a similar-but-much-funnier-and-more-enjoyable-to-read nature, and you should read them, but don’t do so whilst eating because you will choke on a grape and be unable to breathe long enough to have visions of your husband arriving home later that night to see his wife dead on the floor wearing grey sweat pants and a faded Pizza My Heart: Capitola t-shirt with a big wine stain on the front of it, not because she was drinking during the day but because she felt the shirt she stained with wine the night before constituted acceptable work wear, and you don’t really want that to be your husband’s last vision of you, right? I mean, wouldn’t you rather be in that dress that hugs all your curves in just the right way and makes your eyes stand out so that he would be immediately struck by your beauty and what a loss the world has just suffered? No? You [and your husband] aren’t that shallow? Okay then. )

Anyway, before I get to The Situation that you need to help me with, I need to back up a little.

Well, a lot. I need to back up to around 1994. Which is when I got my own phone line.

Listen, Internet, there used to be a time, many years ago (um, 1994, in case you weren’t listening before) (and really, I don’t blame you), when I LOVED to talk on the phone. My whole life pretty much revolved around the telephone. I would talk to my girl friends about boys we liked and to my boy friends about girls they liked and even though that’s barely two topics, it was pretty much the center of my universe and it occupied HOURS of my time. I don’t like to think of all the days and possibly MONTHS of my life I used up on rehashing Some Boy’s behavior in Social Studies or What to Wear to the Co-Ed Dance on Friday OMG What If Some Boy Is There?!?!?!

Now, if you are a doctor who is on call a few times a week and your pre-teen daughter is tying up the phone line at all hours of the day and night with super important giggling, you probably find it quite trying to have to deal with nurses and emergency room physicians yelling at you for hiding behind a busy signal when someone is BLEEDING or BURSTING FORTH WITH CHILD and a slightly-hysterical pre-teen daughter who can’t abide spending even an hour engaged in non-phone activity.

(Wow, as we’ve already had about 40 run-on sentences so far in this post, I can’t in good conscience recommend you read any further.)

Anyway, to put a stop to all the doctorly/nursely yelling and pre-teenagery hysteria, my parents got me my very own phone line. And by “very own,” I mean that I shared it with my brother. But he is six years my junior, which meant he was THRILLED about having a “kids’ line” but wasn’t really at an age where he talked on the phone.  Six-year-olds aren’t really known for their deep existential discussions, you know?

(Thinking about this makes me realize that our hypothetical offspring will likely never know the joys of a kids’ line. Or a land line at all, for that matter.)

But this is all to say that there was a time when I was SO PUMPED when the phone rang. I’d hear my phone jingle upstairs in my bedroom and I’d leap out of my dinner chair or off the couch like some sort of Olympic athlete, tossing dinner plates and astonished-and-slightly-irritated cats off my lap to charge up the stairs three at a time and breathlessly hit “talk” before the caller hung up.  (My parents were surprisingly tolerant of this behavior, by the way. Although in hindsight, I suppose this had more to do with me being a loser dork loner quiet child than with them actually understanding my desire to talktalktalktalk on and on until all hours of the night.)

I LOVED talking on the phone. And that love endured for YEARS. Until, I think, I got married. I don’t think being married KILLED my love of phone-talk, mind you. It just sort of happened at the same time. To be sure, there are a few people with whom I still engage in looooong, drawn out conversations. But not many.

You know what? You probably could have skipped all that and still made a reasoned, thoughtful decision about this post. I want to give you all the credit you deserve, Internet. And yet, I typed it, so there it shall stay.

So, as I mentioned, just there, about five sentences ago, I still have a few people in my life who are Long Phone Talkers. Do you have any of these people in your life, Internet? You know, the people who – when you are about to call them – you take a pre-emptive bathroom break, just in case? I can think of four of them. And that’s just in my personal life – my professional life is a whole different ball game. If by “ball game” you understand that I mean “three-hour mandatory and inescapable phone calls wherein I rue the day Diet Coke was invented.”

We are now, finally, about to get to The Situation.

When one of these Long Phone Talkers (henceforth LPTs) calls, my husband and I have wildly different approaches to answering the phone.

You see, sometimes it is just not a convenient time to settle in for a 50-minute discussion. Perhaps you are just making dinner or sitting down to dinner or watching a particularly pounding-heart-inducing episode of Rescue Me. Or perhaps you have spent three hours on the phone already that day and are certain that you have a raging case of ear cancer from enduring such close proximity to your cellphone for so long and just can’t fathom spending another SECOND on the PHONE OMG FTLOG.

So what do you do in that case? Well, one of us deals with this situation in the right way. Or, at least, the rightER way. And the other, if not straight-out WRONG, is at least less right.

One of us feels that it’s important to answer the phone and say, politely, “We are just sitting down to dinner, can I call you back when we’re done?”

The other of us feels that a ringing phone is not a burning house and does not need to be addressed immediately, or at all.

One of us feels that the LPT knows that we’re there, and so it’s a deliberate slap in the face to ignore the call.

The other of us feels that, what the hell do you mean “a slap in the face”? Maybe the phone is in the car or maybe one of us is in the bathroom or SOMETHING. The LPTs are not able to see into our lives, hello, no one is a witch with a third eye or something.

One of us worries, sometimes, that maybe a ringing phone is code for EMERGENCY! SOMEONE IS DYING OR ON FIRE AT THIS VERY INSTANT ANSWER THE PHONE NOW!!!!!!

The other of us sighs, loudly, in a world-weary way, and calmly notes that even if there WERE an emergency, there’s nothing we can do at that moment, considering that none of the LPTs lives in our city or even in our state. And also, if it were a TRUE EMERGENCY, wouldn’t the LPT be better off calling the police or a fireman or an attorney or something?

One of us wonders, loudly and a little bit grouchily, how freaking hard is it really to answer the phone and say a quick, “I’ll call you back”?

The other of us starts listing times when an LPT either didn’t hear or misinterpreted the answer or didn’t care that we were sitting down to dinner at that instant and so one of us was stuck on the phone, trying to get a word in edgewise to end the conversation as the food grew colder and colder or Tommy Gavin’s image grew closer and closer to becoming indelibly burned into our television screen.

Or – even worse – the other continues, one of us didn’t stop at “Oh, we’re just sitting down to dinner,” but instead went on to say something like, “So how was your day?” or “what’s up?” or something indicating that dinner’s imminence is not nearly as important as conversing with the LPT right then and there.

One of us just feels bad, leaving that dearly loved LPT, whose only hope was to hear a friendly voice, to hear nothing but the repetitive ringing of the phone, followed by a tinny “Leave your number and I’ll call you back” voicemail message.

The other of us turns around to disguise a “you are clearly a narcissist” eye roll and points out that the LPT doesn’t always answer HER phone, you know.  And when that happens, YOU don’t collapse on the bed in a forlorn heap of tears.

And back and forth we go, every single time an LPT calls during an inopportune time.

Clearly one of us is righter than the other here, Internet. Yes?

What is proper phone-answering etiquette, when you aren’t able to talk but the phone is ringing anyway, and on the other end is a much-beloved person whose only fault is extending a phone call into a Count-of-Monte-Cristo-length epic conversation?

Please tell me, Internet. In exchange, I promise not to call you at dinner time.

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