So far, 2017 has been kind of not-great. Though there have been some bright spots, there have also been some laser beams from hell that seem to follow me around like a lost puppy. Actually, I would scoop up a lost puppy and love it and squeeze it and name it George (high fives if you get the reference). No, it’s more like they’ve been scorching the earth around me, starting innumerable fires that I must put out. With a shot glass full of moonshine.
Through it all, I’ve tried to remain positive. It is proven that focusing on the misery only gives it more power. Whereas choosing to look for the good, finding the solution, being the change, will redirect our focus and improve our outcome. After all, I have amazing kids. My pets are a constant source of joy and amusement (except for when they’re being arses) and my entire family is a beacon of light and laughter. Each time I find myself rolling in fire, I grab onto one of these things to quell the flames.
But as the people whom I love and adore suffer illnesses and injuries, I have become baffled by a constant theme that defies explanation. Why is the male gender incapable of tolerating discomfort?
This is not to be confused with tolerating pain. In fact, I am in awe of their capacity to deal with raw pain. I have watched male athletes jump up and move on after stunning injuries, sure they were just in shock and that there was no way they could continue playing. I have audibly gasped when my son showed me his broken and dislocated finger, practically dangling off the end of his hand, only to see that he was grinning broadly. My own husband laughs off wounds that undoubtedly require stitches, bones that are almost certainly broken, and repetitive physical abuse from being a tradesman. But God help us all if he gets a stuffy nose or something in his eye.
Congestion yields near hysteria. All activities must cease and desist immediately and medication must be administered without delay. When it hasn’t started working in 17.9 seconds, there is actual anger. Not like, “Wow, this is annoying. I hope the decongestant starts working soon,” but real-life fury, “Oh my God! This is awful. Where are the tissues? Why hasn’t this stupid medicine started working yet? Are you sure you bought the real stuff and not some natural hippy crap? How long is this supposed to take before I can breathe again?!” And there is a definite undertone of, “why me?”
Even though I know it’s coming, I am still amazed and baffled by the ridiculous display. It’s like a toddler having a tantrum because he tried to rinse his potato chip and then insisting that you make it crispy again. I do not have the powers that he thinks I have.
But this past weekend, the stuffed-head-rage may have actually been surpassed in its insanity by the something-in-my-eye-wrath. Before everyone starts thinking I am heartless and cruel and that he should go find himself a wife without an ice-soul, let me say that I 100 percent agree that it was awful. I hate having an eyelash in my eye and I am certain that a piece of wood (as we later found it it was) is just excruciating. However, I would also like to make it clear that I did not put the wood in his eye. Nor did I suggest he drill into an overhead beam without first putting on his safety glasses. And I certainly tried my best to locate and remove said splinter. I even provided the syringe and suggested, more than once, that he flush his eye.
However, remember the part about all the fires around me? At the time of his unfortunate mishap, I was being engulfed by about three to 16 of them. His eye injury simply became another bag of flaming dog crap on my doorstep. So I called the doctor and got the emergency appointment (while he followed me around – because apparently, you can’t make phone calls with something in your eye). I rearranged and/or rescheduled the other fires, drove to the doctor, filled out the 738 pages of paperwork, waited while the prescription was filled (in a sea of germy vectors of disease) all while listening to the near-constant complaints. If I wasn’t hearing about how much he was suffering, I was enduring heavy silences, punctuated with exasperated, somehow angry, sighs.
When the doctor put some numbing drops in my husband’s eye, I could have kissed him full on the lips. My normally congenial spouse had spent the previous several hours with a permanent scowl on his face. His suffering had been all-consuming and it had been consuming me the entire time. And yet, not once did I say, “Why weren’t you wearing safety goggles?” or “Didn’t you learn anything after the first two times?” Nope. I kept my negativity to myself. So I was rather surprised, as I drove away from the doctor’s office with my numbed-up husband riding shotgun, to hear him say, “I wish you would get something in your eye so you would know how it feels.”
Are. You. F’ing. Kidding.
I gave birth to my children in my home, without a single pain killer — no epidural, not even a damn Tylenol. I vomited between every contraction over a two hour period with my first. I was in labor for 17 hours with my second, missing an entire night’s sleep. And I’m pretty sure I was still cheerier than my scratched-cornea husband. I’m not saying I wasn’t in pain. It hurt like nothing else. Except for maybe the appendicitis. Or maybe the 10 weeks of breastfeeding with cracked and bleeding nipples. What I’m saying is that I didn’t tell every single person, in a two-mile radius, how terrible it was. I tried to smile. I breathed through the pain. I directed my focus on something (anything) else. Hell, I never even missed the bucket when I puked. Because remember that part when I said that focusing on the misery only gives it more power? Yeah. That.
But I have to ease off my husband a little bit because he is definitely not unique in this bizarre behavior. I have seen men from 13 to 85 have near tantrums over minor to moderate discomfort. Blunt force trauma to the head? Pick up the ball and keep running. Swollen nasal passages? Stop everything you are doing, whine like a hungry alley cat, and demand a nap.
I thought about the best way to combat a baby-man when the minor irritant becomes just too much to bear. Since logic and actual solutions are unacceptable, perhaps next time I’ll just hand him an ice pop. Why not? It always made my kids stop complaining.
I suggest making up these bad boys from foodnetwork.com. Keep some in the freezer at all times, just in case.
Laurie Nigro, is the mother of two biological children and one husband. She also takes care of a menagerie of animals that leave throw-up around for her to step in in the middle of the night. Laurie’s passionate about frugal, natural living, which is a nice way of saying she’s a kombucha-brewing, incense-burning, foodie freak who tries really hard not to spend money on crap made by child laborers. You can hear her rant about her muse (aka husband) and other things that have no bearing on your life, in this space each Sunday.
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