Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sensitivity Training Required

They must not get trained in the police academy. It always seems to me that officers (and meter maids) are taken aback by curt responses when they give a ticket to somebody who has let their PA license (or parking meter) expire.

Yesterday afternoon, for the fourth (I kid you not, FOURTH) time, I was pulled over for an expired license plate. I knew as soon as the lights went on. He didn't need to rev up the siren on a beautiful weather Friday. He must have felt a small desire to add a little excitement in his day.

I've let my darling husband manage all of the bill paying. It's part of the unspoken agreement between us. We've fallen into gender role assignments of household management:

I assume most of the planning of the kids' after school activities and transportation to them. He has traditional work hours, but often stays home with the kids after dinner when I need to get to a committee meeting or back on campus to meet with students, or to catch up on work that I can't do at home.

I make the weekly dinner menu and compile the grocery list. He opens the mail and keeps track of mortgage, insurance, regular bill payment, and our bank account.

I keep the kitchen in order, and do most of the cooking. He occasionally cooks, and puts things in the wrong drawers.

I walk the dog. I make him clean the cat's litter box.

I make sure the kids' clothes are cleaned and put away. He mows the lawn.

I yell at the kids about putting their toys away. He takes care of the accumulated crap in the gutters.

I don't know if this is an equitable sharing of the mundane, the minutia. But when he goes out of town for a weekend, I have to do it all. I don't mind it - I know there is an end to it. He comes back. I've gotten used to him being tired for a week after his trip. His contributions to the home are limited even when he gets back. But he does eventually find the energy to take care of things.

I wonder why I expect him to "just take care of it." It's totally unfair of me to expect my husband to just do it. So it's not right for me to be angry that the expired license plate caused another $110.50 ticket.

Yet, the patronizing attitude of the police officer, who has no idea that my overworked husband is sitting by his mother's death bed, is shocked that I dispensed with the "niceties" while he kept me waiting 7 minutes (my son is waiting alone in my office, while I dropped my daughter to ballet class and decided to make a quick run to the Wawa to put free air in the two week old back right tire, and to fill a gas tank that I've been driving on fumes for two days) to write out the ticket, and then proceed to explain to me that I had only until midnight to get it updated or I'd get another ticket tomorrow.

Seriously?  I think I have a radar that tells cops to pull me over when Steve is out of town. Because I'm already on edge with worry.

And I wish I could write about all the reasons why I'm afraid of these weekends....

I'm holding back the fantasy of telling the cop to "bite me" and have him pull me out of the car and beat me with his club because I've become irrationally angry about these stupid Pennsylvania laws and taxes, and yet my car still requires new tires on a faster rotation than any other state I've lived in.

My head spins when Steve goes out of town. Even for the fun weekends.

Nonna perked up a little yesterday, but it was only for a short time. Steve didn't sleep much last night. There was as much as 20 seconds between breaths. All but one of his 6 siblings are there. Number 7 comes in tomorrow, when he plans on driving back home - unless his mother lets go by then.

Nonna is still with us as of this morning. Steve is staying at her side, and trying to help with legal matters or just assessing what needs to be fixed in her house.

I have to walk the dog, mow the lawn, buy new ballet shoes for my son and a new ballet bun holder for my daughter - thanks to an anxious and under-exercised dog that chewed the old one last night, even though it was on the dining room table and he managed to pull it down. Then it's off to a couple of hours of back to back Nutcracker rehearsals, and a run through HarvestFest to support the downtown businesses. Maybe I'll find a nice gift for my mom's very belated birthday.

Maybe I'll find a bottle of magic elixir that will calm my nerves about the state of chaos that I see in my home. No wait, I've already got one. It's called Tullamore Dew.

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