Girl Brain V. Boy Brain: The Safe Word


That’s our safe word. We came up with it last night after a…disturbing…event.

Girl-brain got hurt. It was unintentional, but knowing that didn’t stop the burn.

Boy-brain is genuinely a nice guy. He makes me laugh and he treats me well.

But he does this thing, only now and then, but it makes me uncomfortable. And sometimes angry.


While not strictly illustrative of my point, this made me laugh, so here you go.

I have a little streak of type A that surfaces now and then, and my husband, well, doesn’t.

There are things that drive me batty in our house that he thinks are ridiculous, but he takes care of them because he loves me.

Minor example: Shoes left on the floor. That drives me nuts for three reasons.

  1. We have a defined place for them – let them be home, with their brethren
  2. I trip over them – almost always while carrying a hot liquid or something heavy
  3. The dog chews them – shoes do not grow on trees

And because my family knows this, shoes are normally placed in the boot box. Because it’s easy, it takes two seconds, and it is better than me ranting and raving about them.

But sometimes, my husband forgets that this matters to me. I’ll find his shoes at the edge of the couch. Or in the middle of the bathroom. At first, I pick them up and put them away.

Everyone forgets sometimes, right?

Then it happens a bit more frequently. So on the way to the boot box, I pop into the living room and hold up the shoes. “Bootbox.”

Then the next thing I know, I have cooked dinner for 2 weeks straight, done every dish in the house and all the laundry and put the same legos away 200 times. I’ve taken out the trash and cleaned the cat box and what the hell happened?

This is not our normal division of labor. To be fair, we don’t have a specified division, because I am not type A enough for that. But we kind of have one. We are both expected to do things. And someone needs to keep an eye on the kid.

Once I hit the WhatTheHell? phase, I start asking here and there. Can you cook tonight? Can you take out the trash?

And usually that is enough.

But sometimes. Now and then. About 3 or 4 times a year, it isn’t..

To be fair, he will ALWAYS cook if I ask.

But I’ll get a yes to the trash, then his baseball induced ADD takes over and he forgets about it. Not just the  trash, but the fact that I even asked.

After a few rounds of asking, I end up just picking it up myself, for a couple of reasons.

  1. I am not his mother
  2. It needs to be done
  3. When I am irritated, I am queen of the Pissy Pick up.

But I stew. And eventually it bubbles over into a full-blown crazy rant.

I had one of those little melt downs the other night. And it went just like the others. I tell him that it has been x # of days since Z, and I am officially on strike until he catches up with some effort. I express my frustration about the work division, and the  fact that we periodically have these conversations.

He asks me if I’ve taken my meds.


I must have forgotten, because clearly, it is the lack of Zoloft that is screwing with me, not the fact that I have cooked diner for 2 weeks straight and done every dish in that same time frame.

He concedes that he hasn’t been doing enough, and promises to jump back on the rotation.

I  mention that it is not the first time he has said that.

He points out that I have won, but since I am still going, clearly I just need to vent.


He laughs at me because I haven’t picked up on the cycle.

What cycle?

And for the first time, he explained the cycle.

Most of the stuff doesn’t register with him. He doesn’t care that there is a stack of clean dishes on the sideboard when someone pops in (I HATE the pop-ins). Or even if there are some dirty dishes in the sink. It doesn’t matter if the books are on the shelves vertically or horizontally, or if the sheets are folded.

These things are inconsequential. When faced with the choice between playing with Q or putting away dishes, he doesn’t see a choice. Quinn matters, dishes in cupboards do not.

Point, boy brain.

But because it doesn’t really matter, he doesn’t notice how long it has been between his efforts. Until I bring it up.

Which I don’t do until it has bubbled and foamed away in my brain for several days.

I argue that it is absurd that it gets to the point where the frothing crazy begins to show before he kicks back into normal gear. That we have the same conversation in cycles.

His solution was simple. “So, bring it up earlier.”

I point out that I do, but it doesn’t stick.

Possibly because I am just as likely to ask him to do something for no particular reason, as I am to ask him to do something because I am going to cut out his eyes soon, if he doesn’t.

So we decided on a safe word.

A word outside of the context of our lives to call attention to the fact that I have had enough.

That this request to do the dishes isn’t laziness or preoccupation on my part, but because I’m at the point of considering the logistics of living off sandwiches for the rest of our lives.

Thus, orangutan.


You can pick your own.



2 thoughts on “Girl Brain V. Boy Brain: The Safe Word

I'd love to hear what you think - comments make my day!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s