List Me

Meant like, “Beer me.”  As in, Please give me a beer.  So, basically, I was just trying to say ‘Please give me a list.’  “List me” is funnier , though…once you know what it means, anyway.

And here is where I am going with this.  Wives, girlfriends, “lady friends,” anybody who would like a male in their life to accomplish tasks for them: Please give that man a LIST!  A complete, detailed and extremely specific list.  Because here’s the thing, most men want to do things to make you happy and they themselves are more than happy to take on little (or big) ‘assignments.’  However, more often than not, they have no clue what exactly needs to be done.  Or worse, they will find a project that they think is important.

An example of latter is the last time I threw a dinner party.  I was 9 months pregnant and trying to put on a nice soiree for some of our friends before the baby arrived. I still had lots of cooking and cleaning to do (along with taking care of our 2-year-old, of course) and asked my husband to please help out. I did not follow my own advice – or perhaps this is how I ultimately learned this lesson, myself – and gave no real direction. The next thing I know, he is taking all of his tools out of the laundry room (located at the entrance to the kitchen/dining room, mind you) and “cleaning out and organizing” them. I’m sorry, but I had to put that in quotation marks because if I had thought to take a picture of his little endeavor you would be hysterically laughing at the use of the words “cleaning” and “organizing.” I had to stop him and redirect him to something more useful at that exact moment, such as setting the table. For a second there, I thought I was married to Amelia Bedelia! Granted, when he completed his desired project a few days later it did end up looking neater than before. I will give him that.

As I mentioned, one very important aspect of “The List” is that you be very specific. Do not leave any room for self-interpretation. Trust me. About 6 months ago, we were going out on a date (Crazy, I know!!!) for our anniversary. Two of our friends were coming over to watch Carlitos, so I had been cleaning all day long in case seeing the true state of a House With A 2-Year-Old might scare them off from ever having kids. About 15 minutes before they were supposed to arrive I asked my husband to please just finish cleaning the kitchen and do the dishes left in the sink so that I could at least put on some makeup for our anniversary date…even if I hadn’t been able to find the time to shower. (True story.) Well, I came down stairs to a wiped-down kitchen and an empty sink. I couldn’t believe it! No, really, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think it was possible to wash dishes that fast! Wow, what a guy I married! I gushed and thanked him and told him what a great job he did. He smiled and said “Thank you.” When our friends got there I told them he was responsible for the sparkling kitchen.

Isn’t he great?!?

Again, he kind of shrugged his shoulders like “Aww, shucks. Thanks. I’m just doing my best, that’s all.”

Cut to the next morning: As I go to empty the dishwasher before making breakfast, what do I see? Oh, our huge, bamboo (bamboo = definitely not supposed to be in a dishwasher!) cutting board flat across the bottom rack. I open the door further and see all sorts of plates, cutting boards, pots and glasses that are hand wash only sitting in the dishwasher. And I literally mean sitting. It wasn’t like my husband had loaded the dishwasher, because that would not have been a problem. Oh no, he stashed everything in there on top of each other, hiding all of the dirty dishes like a little boy hiding his Playboys, i.e. badly. The worst part is that more than once he took credit for washing the dishes, failing to mention that he had actually just hidden them.

And finally, when you are making your detailed list, be sure that you include everything you need done. Do not leave anything off of the list – especially if you are leaving a list of things that need to be done while you are gone, or you could come home to this:

When I went to the beach with my boys and mother-in-law, I left my husband a list of everything that needed to be done before he left the house to join us. Take out the trash, make sure there are no dirty dishes – anywhere! (See? I learned my lesson.), leave the cat enough food and water for 4 days, etc. Well, I clearly forgot to write “water the plants.” This plant was sitting directly in the middle of our kitchen counter ( I moved it to the windowsill to try to revive it, sadly, to no avail.) and somehow he didn’t think to give it water. And that right there exemplifies a main difference between men and women (for the most part – Yes, clearly I am generalizing here.) Women tend to notice things that need to be done and use their ability to multitask in order to accomplish all of those items. Men do not seem as prone to scanning a room or situation and thinking of what needs to be done, let alone then completing more than one of those tasks at a time.

This goes for thinking ahead, too, so be sure to be clear when making “Things to Bring” lists, as well. I had to gently tell my husband the other day that whenever I go out with the baby I always bring at least 3 diapers, wipes, an extra outfit and at least 2 pacifiers. He had ‘packed’ for John Xavier for the day and when Xavi pooped through his diaper and onto his outfit, as they inevitably always do, we didn’t have a change of clothes for him. But here is the thing, a few years ago I would have probably gotten angry with him for not thinking to pack everything you need for a baby, which would have caused him to get defensive. This time, because I did my best to speak without judgment (until, of course, I’m poking fun at him on here – ha) and say it in terms of “what I usually do…” he took it very well and said “Oh, yeah, that makes sense. I’ll do that next time.”

All of this is to say that I really do think many men enjoy being given a list. They get a sense of accomplishment as they check off each completed task and as their significant other, we get help achieving everything that needs to be done..rather than, say, emptying out the sporting goods closet in order to rearrange it the night before your in-laws come to visit.

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5 Responses to List Me

  1. The Dude says:

    List or no list, if I was working hard as hell to bring home some cake and also going to school to further my education, mentally drained by the end of the day, you can believe that I won’t be scanning a room trying to figure out what else I could do that day. With that said, if you want a job done right…do it your self! So yes, go ahead and list me please. ;)

  2. admin says:

    So, a few things…I definitely understand since I also worked full time teaching 8th graders, while getting my Masters and also working in a restaurant. I was so exhausted every night and hated coming home to additional life responsibilities like bills, cleaning, dinner, etc. Life can take a a lot of energy, right? I also work really hard all day long now taking care of two kids and doing my best with the house and all the meals, so again, I get being completely drained at the end of the day. The third, and most important point would be that you actually missed the tone and point of this post. I don’t expect my husband to come home each night and look around and figure out more stuff to do, which is why this post didn’t say that I do want that. I was not venting about my husband here, just telling a few funny stories that highlighted a general difference between males and females.
    I’m going to chalk your response up to a lack of sleep…

  3. The Dude says:

    Thank you for that thoughtful response. There is no question that whatever your roll might be, wether a stay at home full time mom, 8th grade teacher, or whatever it is, it’s tough to add to the everyday stresses, but I think you also missed my point that circumstance will determine when it’s time to make a list. Examples are good, perhaps it was this comment that got my attention,

    “However, more often than not, they have no clue what exactly needs to be done. Or worse, they will find a project that they think is important.”

    This assumes that the task you have provided him is the most important.

    You should just chalk my response up to another perspective, unless there is lack of interest for that.

  4. Men* says:

    [...] had a Stereotypical Male Moment the other night.  The kind that left me wishing I had given him a list.  You know, of what things to do and the *correct* order in which to do them.   A life guide, of [...]

  5. [...] food ready.  Sometimes I ask for help.  But only if I’m in a good mood, because the help usually looks like this.  Yes, my husband always finds the most amazingly creative projects right before a dinner party or [...]

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