This post is part five in a series that started innocently enough when I posted a Holiday Shopping Guide for Men, which really told men what we women did NOT want. The inimitable Jason Brooks followed up with his Women's Guide to What to Buy a Dude. I then told you Why She Won't Tell You What She Wants. Then came Jason’s Why Men Don't Talk. And so now, following the logical progression of the conversation, I present you with a detailed explanation as to Why We Want Husbands, Not (More) Children.
Not surprisingly, Jason used a number of sports metaphors to demonstrate why men are masters of non-verbal communication. He also threw out some military comparisons. I can’t argue with any of these, and, in fact, the aptness of those metaphors is why I stereotype so very much.
But what do all those sports and military metaphors have in common? Whether the meaning of these supposedly genius non-verbal communications is “bunt,” “go long,” “pass me the bait,” “gimmee another beer,” or “take cover over there” they are two things: 1) commands and 2) simple.
And who do we women give simple commands to? Yup. Toddlers. To us, such simple commands imply 1) that the person giving them is an authority figure over the person receiving them, 2) that the person receiving them can only understand simple vocabulary, and (most importantly) 3) that the person receiving them is not capable of figuring out that the things being commanded have to be done on their own. To us, if we only said things like, “Buy me the new Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday” then we would be communicating with you in the exact same way we communicate with young children. On some level, we know this is what you want, and it is why we are forced to say things like, “It is Thursday, don’t forget to take out the trash” and “Tomorrow is your Mother’s birthday. Get her a present.” (Or, more realistically, “Tomorrow is your Mother’s birthday – I bought her that necklace she was admiring at the craft fair. Don’t forget to call her. Do you need me to dial the number? Oh, and we're meeting her and your sister at the Olive Garden on Tuesday at 6:30.”)
It really is exhausting telling people what to do all day. When you are telling people what to do you have to keep track of what is and isn’t done, what needs to be done, and in what order. I not only have to make sure I have tended to the needs of my own bladder, but those of my children. (“Go potty before we leave – we’re going to be in the car for a while and we are not stopping.” And then, after repeating that three times and waiting five minutes, “Did you flush?” and then “Wash your hands!”)
We need someone in our lives who is self sufficient -- and we want that person to be you, our helpmate and partner. We crave someone who can figure out on their own what needs to be done and then just do it without being asked. Someone who can anticipate our needs in the same instinctive way that we can know for sure that in six hours our children will complain of a sore throat and then be diagnosed with strep. We will already have the orange juice, popsicles, and chicken soup on hand, because we know what is coming in the same way that you know when a basketball player is about to foul. This frustrated feeling of not having another grownup in the house is compounded when you run to us, having completed a simple task that more likely than not we have asked you to do, expecting praise. I will pat a three year old on the head and say, “Yay! You put your plate in the sink! Have a cookie!” I will not do that for anyone old enough to buy liquor.
We are not unbreakable Navajo Code Talkers. We seriously have no idea what you don’t know, and we refuse to believe you know so little. We don’t have to tell you that the rising sun is a good indication that it might be morning. We don’t have to tell you to put your socks on BEFORE your shoes. So why do we have to tell you that if you run buy the store you need to get milk when JUST THIS VERY MORNING you were complaining that there wasn’t enough milk for your coffee?
Let’s go back to this whole Navajo idea. My guess is that if the Code Talkers had only said things like, “Duck and Cover” then the code could have been broken. But no. They were communicating very complicated intelligence that couldn’t be translated into head nods and fist bumps. They were not communicating simple commands. They were saying things like “the Japanese have a tank squadron heading east towards Okinawa, and dive bombers are heading your way.” (I just made that up based on 90 seconds of research on http://www.navajocodetalkers.org/the_code/. I have no idea if that’s the kind of thing they would say, and please please please, you history buffs out there, don’t nitpick me. Just be thankful, being a girl, I knew about Navajo Code Talkers before starting to write this.) No amount of “s’up”s or three-fingers-down-and-a-brush-of-the-left-elbows could communicate that.
The point is this – we agree that you are good at simple commands and the non-verbal communications thereof. We also happen to know that you are good at certain complex organizational and analytical tasks, and understanding the subtleties of personal interaction, or there wouldn’t be the rabid proliferation of fantasy baseball teams. So don’t you try to fool us with this whole Neanderthal communicating only with grunts nonsense.
We know the truth. The truth is that in every man’s heart is a nine year old boy who wants his Mommy. And that’s fine. The boy in him is part of what we love about him. But his Mommy is our mother-in-law. Let’s not go confusing the two.