Monday, January 9, 2012

The Teacher

I'm not magic you know.

After acknowledging the fits of rage that I can rapidly descend into based purely upon trying to put cling film on something I began to think things over. I am the stay at home parent. My job is to teach my children all my skills. But what of all the things I can't do? What can't I transfer to my kids that I'm expected to? Am I failing them? Luckily I floated these elsewhere and it seemed to strike a chord. And as I have no idea what else to talk about today I thought I'd gather it all together and tidy it up a bit here.

I cannot put the cushion covers on my own couch. It requires me to squash two couch pillows into a non-stretchy fabric that is clearly too small. The failure I have experienced trying to do this has meant I have actually left the room to fetch a knife to stab it with. My wife can do it in about 15 seconds. But that's because - as a woman - she's had years of experience stuffing her own pillows into containers that are deliberately slightly too small. Add she does this with the kids while I look on bemused. She tries to teach me how it's done but I'm not getting involved in something that is clearly witch-craft.

I cannot tell if you if I like something over something else that is quite similar. I have no idea because I don't like most things. I'm not saying I dislike them - I just don't have any emotional response to them. So when asking me if I like a certain color of something rather than another - I have no idea. The same goes for buying clothes. "Which one of these almost-identical items do you prefer?" will always be answered the same way. With, "the first one you found that you like." And don't give me, "but what if I like something else more?" Well - you wouldn't know that if you stopped looking. And if you follow that logic you can never stop looking. One of the things I enjoy least in the whole world is a paint-chip card of 6 slightly different colors and being asked to state which one of them I like the most. First off - they're all the same. Secondly - whichever one I look at first. My wife will spend an inordinate amount of time getting my kids to think her way. Which will be particularly painful for her when they turn 12 and tell her they hate everything - especially the very specific things she likes.

I will not remember your name and/or phone number, if given to me. As a prime example - I don't know what my own phone number is. I know what my wife's number is but I haven't the slightest idea what mine is. And while I do know what my own name is I don't know what yours is. I cannot count the number of times I have met a parent of a child in my daughter's class to and had them tell me their name only for met o deliberately forget it. And I do mean deliberately. They will introduce themselves and all I'll hear in my head is, "ahahhhahahaha what a massive waste of time!! I'm never going to remember your name! The least you can hope for is that I remember that you are the parent of your strangely ugly child." This sadly will mean that I will spend one morning in a month or so in situations where I will have forgotten all names, codes, numbers and passwords that I am supposed to know. Usually this happens at the checkout of a store when asked what my phone number is before they'll beep my stuff through for some annoying bloody reason. If I'm in a good mood I'll try and remember a number but will fail. Mostly I'll pretend to be foreign and suggest that perhaps their store isn't set up to be friendly to foreigners. If I'm in a bad one I'll just walk out if they resist the notion that buying craft supplies doesn't mean they need my home details, blood type and inside leg measurements. But once through the tricky number issue I will suddenly have absolutely no idea what my PIN is and the cashier will begin to think I'm an international super-criminal. Then there's a fine line between me seeming quite dangerously simple or appearing quite sexy. Anyway - my daughter remembers everything so I'm safe here. My son might be like me - in which case I'll force an English accent onto him and he can chance his arm at the sexy foreign angle if he can't remember where he lives.

I cannot tell you why I don't like the something I am eating. I am not a culinary neanderthal of any kind. I know my food and I can cook. But when I don't like something it's pretty difficult for me to explain specifics - I just don't like it. My wife becomes annoyed when I answer, "the way it tastes is bad" - when that is patently the reason that I don't like it. She will ask me if it's too sour, or too sweet or too something. The answer is that it tastes too much like the thing it is. Take strawberries (far away, if possible). I hate strawberries. Strawberry sauce, strawberry ice cream, strawberry yoghurt - whatever - is good. But naked fresh as-they-are strawberries are disgusting. Why? Because they taste too much like strawberries. My wife has moved on to, "is it the texture?" to try and get me to say something else. I have no idea - and that's irrelevant anyway. If it didn't have whatever is unpleasant in it then I wouldn't be pointing out that it tastes bad. I just don't want to eat that again. Luckily my daughter doesn't want to eat anything after 5pm so I've avoided that problem. My son eats everything even when begged to not do so.

I cannot abide a fake tan or very fake bleach-blonde hair. I don't believe I have some unusual super-detection that means I can identify people with a fake tan more accurately than others. I don't need to - because everyone can tell it's a fake tan. I realize that this is an area where I shouldn't be as judgmental about others but I just cannot staunch the flow of revulsion at it. It looks terrible. It's like someone saw a photograph of a Gollywog and then did the opposite. Inside my head I start to feel the urge to ask that person if they know that they look like they've washed their face in gravy (which actually I should like quite a lot), or that they may have accidentally washed with Nutella. Thankfully my wife and I have recently been pointing out to my daughter the fact that people are people - different skin color is pretty much the same as different hair color as far as what a person is like. Ginger people excluded obviously (and I say that as as someone who really is secretly ginger inside) At which point I think I should be applauded for not bringing up the point that if someone can make a decision as bad as coating their skin an unnatural orangey-brown and then dying their hair a fake color then who knows what catastrophically poor decisions they will inevitably make with things that actually matter. My daughter will not do this. I'll see to that.

My wife will cook meat, tip the pan up and then dab the boiling fat run-off with a paper towel. I tried that and severely burned my fingers. Either women are born with asbestos fingers or this is the result of an activity that women claim they don't do that leads to callouses so pronounced that they can do this sort of thing without worry. There's nothing I can do for my children here except let nature takes it's course.

I cannot pour windshield wiper fluid into my car without gushing 1/5th of the bottle all over the engine first. This is a combination of me being massively cack-handed whenever I open the hood of an engine and the fact that whoever designed the frigging thing put the spout for the opening half underneath the arm that holds the hood up. In fact I can't do anything auto-related except drive it and scrape snow off of it. And I'm sick of people thinking that because I can't fix a car (even minor things) that it is a reflection of my character. "If you're going to use it you should know how it works properly" people who do that to their Constitution will say.

While it is now near-legendary that I will fight every natural (allegedly...) biological urge to poo when not in my own home I cannot tolerate others carrying, "a concealed weapon." Which basically means my direct family - I'm not about to chase random strangers through the grocery store to clunk one out. However if it becomes known to me that anyone needs a poo I will feel strongly compelled to force you to get rid of it as quickly as possible regardless of location. The unusual enjoyment my family express upon delivering their own monkey fudge suggest I may be alone here.

I can't blow my nose. I have not the slightest clue how you people do that. I am slightly jealous of that ear-splitting honking noise that some people make when blowing their nose. But at the same time it's disgusting enough for me not to mentally think that what you've made is probably the noise Monica Seles makes when having a shit. It is odd that the only emptying of bodily waste that's permitted in public situations is also accompanied by a noise that sounds like a goose having an orgasm. So I'm told. My daughter can rocket them out just like her mother. My son lets it run all over his face still.

I cannot swim. I have friends who passionately ask me what I'm going to do if I'm in a car with my kids and we crash into a lake and I am then unable to save them from drowning. To which I ask - why are you threatening to drive me off the road into a body of water? Add my daughter can swim fine and my son is under three years of age so has that alien-mutant power to swim innately. But lets go back to your threat - considering they've just been in a car crash - that you have caused no less - it seems somewhat callous you would then hang their potential gruesome deaths around my neck. I need not worry here either - my entire side of my wife's family can swim distances that are inhuman.

If my wife is bending over to do anything I cannot not slap her arse. It would be wrong of me not to as I'm her husband. The same applies to grabbing her norks if she's changing a light bulb or painting the ceiling. And yes - I deliberately leave money on the carpet and change bulbs in the house to dud ones just to engage in these practices. And don't think this makes me a crass misogynistic barbarian. I don't consider this romantic or sexual in the slightest. It's purely mechanical. And don't you women pretend you don't do the same thing. Because we all know that if your man is bent over anywhere near you that you'll be stood behind him gripping his hips and dry-humping away laughing like a muppet within seconds. Yes honey - I'm referring to you.

I cannot have an emotional reaction if you are trying to show me the middle finger from your car. My wife has told me on occasion that it's happening. I don't care. I probably didn't do anything wrong anyway but you swearing at me is none of my business. I know you need me to see you. Sorry no - I'm like the British in Hong Kong before we handed it off to China - just shunning everyone around me as unimportant. Hopefully this will be taught to my children.

See - I'm not magic.

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