Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Lists

Jerry was telling our friend Mary Ann about how strict his mom was when he was little.  I'd heard this all before - how he got up every single Saturday and helped clean the entire house, not just pick up clutter but do real cleaning like dusting,  vacuuming and stuff involving soapy water.  He used to squirm into his bed dressed in his next-day's school clothes and try not to roll over in the night so his clothes would stay unwrinkled and his bed would always stay made.  This got me to thinking.....hmmm.....maybe I could use some of this early childhood training to my advantage.

We've been married thirty-some years and Jer's been darned good carrying his load (and then some) around the house.  He can fix anything, cheerfully does, can cook, do laundry, vacuum and loves to play with kids, too. We never established a regimented ritual like his mother had during his youth though.  My bad. 

Last Wednesday I remedied this oversight by make lists.  I made myself one and anything that I didn't want to do I put on a list for him.  I will admit I was kind of goofing around; I never intended to do anything with these lists. They were still fun to write though.

My list: pay bills, do laundry, bring down winter clothes from storage, straighten bookshelves, put away left-over junk from our move, hem two pair of pants, alter another two, clean out fridge, clean upstairs. 

His list:  seal the wardrobe in the laundry room, install a threshold in the basement closet, wash the windows, repair the tub, clean out the garage, hang a picture.

These lists were in no way equitable.  Mine was a powder puff, Barbie list and his was a macho, Stretch Armstrong one.  One was everyday ordinary and one was unusual over the top - requiring skill, specialized knowledge and stamina. Writing them really was just entertainment for me, a way to avoid paying bills for a little while.  (Bill paying was supposed to get easier with the advent of computers and online banking but now it takes me way longer than writing out the checks and mailing them used to.  Convenience?  I think not.) 

Jerry got up Saturday morning way before I did (I'm not going to rehash that stupid early bird vs. night owl thing again), found the lists and started working on his.  By the time I was alert and aware, he'd already removed everything from the wardrobe and had tackled sealing it inside and out.  He was busy trying to fix the closet floor.  Hey, I'm not dumb...I left him to his own devices, rationalizing that it probably felt comforting to him to be productive.  I went on my merry way, squandering more time goofing around online paying bills (or looking at emails and facebook, to be brutally honest.)  Of course I got distracted, well duh, so when lunch time arrived, I realized that Jerry was just finishing up washing the exterior windows.  I stopped what I was doing, went around inside and removed all the screens. 

While I made him caprese salad, he washed all the interior windows.  Let me repeat that for emphasis.  While I was making him a salad, he washed all the interior windows.  All.  How could it take me longer to make a salad which contains only four ingredients than it takes to wash an entire house full of windows?

There is only one explanation.  My mortal husband had somehow morphed into a combination of Wonder Woman, Batman and every other super hero you can name.  Seriously, how can anyone clean that many windows so fast?  We had purchased a soaper dealie and a squeegee on the end of a long pole a couple of weeks ago which might have seemed like a new toy to a bored guy, but still.  He washed seventeen windows inside and out in under an hour.  Like he said, they weren't perfect but they were so much improved that I didn't want to put the screens back on.  It would have lifted my spirits had it not been for the crushing guilt of watching him work like a maniac while knowing I had not crossed one thing off my list yet. Now all the junk from the wardrobe was on the family room floor and all the screens needed to go back in.  They were going to take precedence over my list items and, btw, the bills weren't finished yet.

The rest of Saturday followed suit.  Jerry: work, work, work.  Chris: starting to pay bills, getting distracted.  Sunday came.  In the  early afternoon we went for a lovely kayak ride followed by a relaxing walk.  When we got home, I started to clean the laundry room (not on my list) and Jerry piddled with something in the garage.  Around three o'clock he announced, "I'm finished with my list.  Come see the garage." 

The garage had been totally transformed!  You could actually walk on both sides of the car and he'd installed a little ball on a rope so I could pull in and park perfectly every time without getting out to check to see if the rear of the car was actually inside then pulling up until I hit the wall, which was my habit.  It was a Better Homes and Gardens garage.  Jerry went off to do what people do when they have leisure time and I went back to the bills. 

At 12:15 a.m., I called it a night.  Half my list was crossed off.   The house was (mostly) clean and the laundry room looked terrific.  We got a lot of small projects accomplished too - and the bills are paid.  It was a win for the team.  The idea worked so well (for half of us) that I think we'll do it again.  Next time he can write the lists.

1 comment:

woodenstamp said...

LOL, loved reading this. In our situation my list would be done and Matt's would take a couple of weeks to complete. Living with a man with ADHD is NOT easy at times, so easily side tracked!