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Here's where we keep you updated on news about parenting as it relates to division of responsibilities, career versus home decisions, work/life balance, and legislative and grass-roots movements toward equality or better choices for families. We'll also throw in our opinions of life as equal parents in a nonequal world, regardless of what's in the news.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

When Burgers Turn Bad

Marc and I have an ongoing battle (lest you think we never fight) about quality. It usually manifests as me insisting on the best of the best when planning for a party - the most bountiful spread, the highest quality ingredients, etc. Marc then automatically takes a stand against my wishes, often going overboard in his assertions that a few crumbs scraped off the floor will be perfectly adequate party food.

So, my ESP challenges are particularly great around party time.

This past week, our son T had his 4th birthday party - a barbeque at a local playground. Marc and I discussed the menu, I wrote up the shopping list, and Marc did the shopping. Then, I saw that Marc had bought store-brand pre-formed burgers in a box rather than hamburger meat we could form ourselves. The horror! I know, I know - some of you are thinking (or so Marc assures me), "What's wrong with that?" Yuck, gag, worse than cat food. Our opinions were not meshing here.

What to do?

I blundered - I acted horrified and insisted that the pressed cardboard be replaced with real meat before the party could go on. Marc reacted as any normal guy might, and defended his purchase by calling me elitist (in so many words) and telling me that this kind of talk is exactly what makes guys not all that anxious to take on the shopping. ESP not!

What could I have done differently? Happily serve what I thought was really bad food to our guests? I could have. But I think that doesn't have to be the answer. Serving good food (even simple hamburgers) is really important to me. Deliberately serving bad food was not Marc's goal, and he didn't buy the boxed meat just to tick me off - he just thought he'd found something convenient at the grocery store that would fit the bill. He didn't prefer his purchase over my wishes either. But somehow, I don't think that ESP means having to settle for a standard so far below your own at any moment's notice - on an issue that really matters to you. This isn't world peace, I know, but bear with me...

Marc and I dissected the issue later that day and came to some useful conclusions. He told me that it would have helped tremendously if I had not been so strongly accusing of him when I first noticed his purchase. If I had instead said something like, "Hmmm...I'd really like to use regular hamburger meat for the party, would you mind if I exchanged it?" Then, we could possibly have preserved our equality in the matter - Marc's choice being viable, and Amy raising a different suggestion - and briefly discussed the matter. We also realized that the important ESP take home message was that while both of us get a full vote in everything about our home and family, we vote in the context of our whole selves - not for the sake of mathematical equality.

When all was smoothed over, I went to the grocery store for my choice of hamburger (and trust me, much of the party was Marc-style too). T had a ball at his birthday bash, and we still both felt we put on the party together.

As luck would have it, I forgot to bring the dreaded burger pucks back to the store. They sit, in all their splendor, in our freezer now. Someday, I know one of them will be smiling up at me from my plate on Marc's night to cook dinner. And I'll smile back.


Blogger JohnMcG said...

Hope the fight wasn't my fault...

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Dennis said...

This sounds very familiar. My wife always wants to do the grocery shopping becasue she says I don't but the right things (brands, sizes, etc.). But she never puts that info on the lists she gives me. She'll just write "chicken" because she knows which chicken she needs, so she doesn't need to elaborate on it. Then she'll give me the list (on the few times I do the shopping) and I'll select whatever chicken looks good to me, and it's not the chicken she wanted.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I think you're refering to the idea that hosting a party reflects far more on women in our society than it does on men. So, therefore, part of my reaction was because I felt much more responsible than Marc for putting on a terrific party. I have to admit that this definitely holds true for me, even though I try to push past my fears.

Familiar and totally normal! If you made the list and she did the buying, might one or two items come back looking way different than you had envisioned too? Despite the acronym, ESP alas doesn't really allow for mindreading. The key is that your wife doesn't judge you as an inferior shopper to her.

8:41 PM  
Blogger JohnMcG said...

No, in the thread below I posted that while Marc might not need appreciation, he probably wouldn't like criticism, either. Hope that didn't plant a seed in his head to be looking out for citicism.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Ah...I certainly hope you aren't to blame then! :-) Chances are, you're innocent, since we've had this particular argument before many a party.

7:01 PM  

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