he first word to come to mind when describing my wife would be anything but “dork”. She’s come a long, long way since we came into each other’s lives, but she was raised in the superficiality capitol of the world, Southern California. Girls in her high school were more worried about who did their nose-jobs, whether or not they had “back fat”, and the finer points of hue, color and chroma variations between spray-on tan and traditional sun tanning. Growing up in that environment I can’t blame my wife for being un-dorky. For her, being un-dorky is a survival instinct. Worrying about what other people will think is hard-written into her DNA. Obviously I have the opposite problem.
Though the dork gene is obviously missing from her genetic code she’s got millions of other genes that she can’t easily scrub away. Before children my wife was a Mozart-caliber 2nd grade teacher. She was the one all the 1st grade parents fought over, and pitched a fit if they wound up with another teacher. The genotype resulting in the uber-teacher phenotype, just like the un-dork survival instinct, is inextricable from my wife’s genetic identity. You can take the girl out of teaching, but you can’t take the teacher out of the girl. My wife would slave for HOURS well into the night decorating her classroom (and I, as the dutiful boyfriend trying to impress her would do the same). Hers was always the best classroom in the school, brilliantly decorated for every season with almost OCD precision. She has brought that with her from her classroom into our home… and it’s starting to rub off on my daughter.
As regular as clockwork the decorations around our house come down at the end of a season, and the next season’s chatchkies go up. Door wreaths, floor mats, candy bowls, decorative towels – holy crap the decorative towels!
What the hell is it with ladies and decorative towels? Why on earth would you put out a towel in the first place that you CAN’T USE?!?!! Inevitably I’ll be doing the dishes or wiping down the counters after dinner and my hands are all wet. The last dish towel was used to wipe up chicken and rice my son skillfully dispersed across the entire kitchen and there are no paper towels on the roll. But there are two perfectly good, never before used decorative towels just *BEGGING* to be used. Ladies, want to drive your man insane? Fill your house with decorative towels.
Enough of that. Back on topic.
Just as days get longer in the Summer and birds migrate for the winter, there are certain rhythms to nature. So it is with my wife’s decorations, and my daughter has noticed. She gets all excited when it’s time to take down the Halloween stuff and put up the Thangsgiving stuff (yes, we have separate rubber-made bins in the attic, each meticulously labeled by my wife via label-maker and color coordinated for the appropriate holiday, orange bin for thanksgiving, black for Halloween, green for Xmas etc…). Yesterday marked the very end of the Xmas decoration season when we pulled down the last few straggling chatchkies from the shelves and pulled out the Valentine’s day stuff from the atic (red bin, thank you very much). Again, my daughter was thrilled to be part of the ritual. Up went the door wreath. Out came the heart-shaped candy bowls. Down went the heart floor mat. Out came the decorative towels (AARGH!!). Satisfied, my wife and I went about the rest of our day.
An hour or so later, almost simultaneously, my wife and I both looked up from what we were doing and locked eyes. Whenever it gets quiet in the house a little internal timer starts in the back of every parent’s mind. The timer resets every time someone screams, or something breaks, or somebody announces to everyone in the neighborhood that they have to go to the bathroom. If nothing resets the timer and it is allowed to run down to zero, an alarm bell goes off in that parent’s head. Somebody’s up to something. It was too quiet for too long. Un-dorkMommy and I went to investigate.
What we found gave me a snicker while simultaneously putting a bur in the saddle of the mildly OCD 2nd grade teacher DNA buried deep in the nucleus of every single cell of my wife’s body. After my wife laid out all the decorations *just so*, my almost 6-year-old daughter had dragged a chair around the house and made her own home-made contributions/augmentations to this season’s chatchkies. It was really quite sweet – little hand written signs that said “love” and hearts everywhere, lovingly taped with way too much scotch tape to every surface she could reach.
It’s moments like these when we really notice our kids keying in on gender roles and behavior. My son is starting to talk about things like “a boy’s job is to take care of the girls in the house and make them feel good”, and my daughter has obviously concluded that girls (at least in our house) do the seasonal decorating.
Both my kids are well on their way to becoming (the good kind of) dorks. My son especially has imprinted on the things that I think are cool – superheroes, video games, anything Star Wars, baseball in the backyard, etc. If my son is well on his way to be a card-carrying, spandex-wearing, comic con-going, Star Wars-loving dork, my daughter is well on her way to becoming…
…well, whatever it is you would describe my wife as.
Considering how much I think of my wife, I couldn’t be more thrilled.