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GIRLFRIENDS GUIDE TO FAMILY

Multi-Tasking Ladies Can Make Knights Feel Superfluous

May 21, 2000|VICKI IOVINE

Dear Vicki: I'm writing on behalf of the men who sneak a glance at your columns from time to time. Here's our question: Where do all the women who write to you get off making us sound like bumbling idiots?

In case they haven't noticed, most of us are good providers, love our kids and honor our marital vows--in spite of lots of temptation.

Hey, we're clean. We eat with utensils, except on weekends, and we can speak in complete sentences. So how come we are always portrayed as goons who couldn't possibly diaper a child or handle a parent-teacher conference alone? Do women really think we're as lame as all that?

--HEAD OF THE BOYS' CLUB

Dear Boys' Club: First, let me assure you and your pals that nearly 50% of my column readers appear to be men, at least judging from the mail I receive. And very wise those guys are, if you ask me, since they are, or should be, shouldering 50% of a family's responsibilities.

Not only that, but this column often gives you that coveted opportunity to be a fly on the wall and hear what the Girlfriends are saying when they don't know you're listening. I've yet to meet a guy with all his synapses in place who doesn't love eavesdropping on "chick chat."

To answer your question, let me say that in most traditional families, men focus on career and providing. Women, while often just as dedicated to their jobs outside the home, often instinctively feel that they are the only thing that stands between their beloved babies and impending disaster.

Those differences express themselves something like this: Dad goes to work, thinks about work and devotes himself to work (leaving aside for the moment any golf putting that goes on behind closed doors). Mom is not allowed to think about work until the minute she arrives at her place of employment.

All hours between dawn wake-up patrol must be multi-tasked, between finding shoes that match for her kids to wear to school, a run-free pair of pantyhose for herself, the missing button from her clueless mate's dress shirt, the lost permission slip for the field trip to the tide pools--all while practicing multiplication tables with a third grader who's being tested that day. Then, of course, she discovers that her period has come four days early!

For some biological accident of gray-matter wiring, women are generally superior in doing 50 things at one time. The greatest ambidexterity I've ever witnessed by my own terrific mate was when he tried to hold a colicky baby and get a glass of water from a dispenser simultaneously. The water bottle tumbled off the dispenser, the baby was so startled that he lurched back perpendicularly, and I levitated out of bed and into the kitchen to scream at everyone involved.

The lesson here is this: We women secretly feel superior to our men because of our extraordinary ability to keep all the balls in the air most of the time. In fact, because we're so annoyingly self-reliant, any man with sense would gladly turn the business of running a family over to us, if only to avoid having to hear us crow.

Truth be told, we rather like it that way. I have yet to meet a mother anywhere who wishes parenting were a democracy. As far as we see it, there's our road or the highway, so don't slow traffic in our lane. I guess it's kind of a ploy really, our dissing you guys for your parenting, because we don't really mean it. We want to be the decision-makers, but we want you at our sides and supporting us at all times.

We may not say it enough, but we adore the unique and fun relationships you have with the kids when we butt out. And, more than anything else--and here's another secret I'm giving away for free today--we are sexually aroused by the way you tousle our son's hair or tell our daughters that they are smarter than any boy or girl on the planet. Please don't change; just beef up on those things that you do so well.

*

Write to Vicki Iovine at Vicki@girlfriendsguide.com. Iovine is the author of the "Girlfriends' Guide" series of books, as well as a parenting correspondent for NBC, advice columnist for Child magazine, and marriage correspondent for Redbook. Write to her at Girlfriends, Southern California Living, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, L.A., CA 90053; e-mail GrlfrndsVI@aol.com.

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