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Archie, tell your father this is now a meta meta argument

By March 14, 2006monkeys, thoughts

When Bob and I were first learning how to be “Bob & Laurie,” we had to work hard to learn how to argue. I come from a family that argued whenever the need arose — not excessively, really, just, um, Jewishly. Bob, on the other hand, comes from a good New England Catholic family that did. not. argue. period. So you can imagine our conflicts were a little, let’s say, clumsy in the early years. Bob wanted nothing more than to be “Oh Lord Please. Anywhere but here,” and would go to great lengths to avoid arguing. I wanted nothing more than for Bob to just stick with it so we could get to the Other Side and be okay again. Bob didn’t know that the “Other Side” existed. I didn’t know there was any other way to get there. Sometimes the argument developed into a meta argument where we would find ourselves arguing about why or how or when we were arguing. “We were having such a nice day,” Bob might say. “Why do we have to be arguing now?” This sidebar argument felt completely “WTF — This is so beside the point!” to me and usually made me even angrier than I already was. So there we would mire, arguing about arguing, arguing about when to argue, running away from arguing, and bully arguing. Ultimately, finally, thankfully we would find the core issue, work it over, and move on.

Fourteen years later, I’m proud to report that we are much more adept at working our way through a fight. The meta arguments don’t happen anymore. I’ve learned that there can be an appropriate and an inappropriate time to argue. Bob has learned that there is often no avoiding the argument (and that there’s nothing inherently wrong with that), and that having it can be the fastest way to get through it. He’s even started some arguments himself (I’m so proud), and I’ve even suggested, once or twice, that we chill and pick it back up later. Sometimes we triangluate our argument through the cat.

Fast forward to Upside Up Land which brings Zoe and Lucy the redhead Leo monkeys into our world. Thankfully we’re not yet arguing with them, per se, but we are definitely capable of making each other mad. Just recently I watched Lucy stomp up to Zoe, put on her angry face, cross her arms emphatically and declare, “Zoe. I’mmm Furious,” harumphing her crossed arms against her chest for more emphasis. I have no idea what she was so furious about — and I don’t think Zoe did either — but she was certainly doing a good job expressing her fury.

Anyway, back to me. Lately, among other niceties of civilized life, we’ve been having bedtime issues. Blah blah blah. We know how to do it — create a consistent nighttime routine, one that leads toward calm, and stick with it. We’re so consistent I get bored just writing about it. But still (and don’t think I’m not proud of this) Zoe and Lucy are wily little monkeys and they have figured out not only how to not go to bed if they don’t want to, but also how to keep us involved, even if it means shredding all impressions of an otherwise wonderful day with yelling and crying and other diversionary tactics.

Wait a minute. Did I just say that out loud? Did you just hear me say “We’ve had such a nice day. Why do you have to end it by behaving like single-minded, id-driven, 3-yr-old monkeys?” Aww man. I’m becoming my boyfriend.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Susan says:

    My boys like the word “poopy” (and stinky, and stinky poopy, and…). I don’t stess too much about this, but I have instituted a rule against using the “p-word” at the dinner table. So tonight at the dinner table the boys said “pword” to each other repeatedly, giggling smuggly. Little meta-buggers!

  • I completely relate. (I love the description of arguing Jewishly. We also make decisions Jewishly, which involves discussing ALL possible options.) It took my husband and I a long time to learn to discuss things in a way that worked for both of us.

    And more generally – I love you blog!

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