Theory and Practice

This is a book I can’t wait to delve into: Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life. The two neuroscientists who authored it claim it’s a “user’s guide for brain owners.”

I haven’t read the book yet, it’s on De-facto’s side of the bed. He’s a relentless reader; even if he’s not enjoying the book he’ll slog through it until it’s done. I’m waiting for him to finish.

Last night he read a passage to me, about researching happiness. The authors explain that with most psychological research, the answer you get depends on the question you ask.

“When women were asked to list the activities that they particularly enjoyed overall, ‘spending time with my kids’ topped the list. In contrast, when other researchers asked women to describe how they felt during each of their activities the previous day, the average positive rating given to interacting with children indicated that this activity is roughly as rewarding as doing housework or answering e-mail. This finding suggests that women find their children more rewarding in theory than in practice, at least on a moment-to-moment basis.”

This is it. No matter how much you try to be the ideal, engaged parent, taking the kids to the science museum, devising creative projects with the construction paper and empty egg cartons, spontaneously suggesting fun (“hey, who wants to jump on the bed?”), the truth is that an inordinate amount of our time – most of it – is spent nudging and cajoling these small uncooperative creatures along. We’re constantly asking them to do something that they aren’t inclined to do. Please get dressed, finish your zucchini, do your homework, pick-up, wash, flush, and brush. It’s one long string of requests and commands after another. It wears you down and makes it hard to be happy about hanging out with them.

When it comes to enjoying time with your kids, you have to be proactive or else get sucked into the vortex of being a nag or a grump.

De-facto’s really smart about this. He actively seeks out activities that both he and the kids like to do. The city constructed a free ice-rink in front of the Hotel de Ville; he’s all over that. (Actually, I’m not sure if it’s because he loves to skate or because it’s free.) He gets the kids out of the house, he makes it fun for them, and he has fun himself.

I, too, try to do the things I like to do and invite my girls to appreciate the them with me. This is why one of my daughters had added “barfly” to her lengthy list of middle names. It’s also why the whole family had such a great afternoon participating my favorite winter activity: eating oysters. Check it out:

Casks at the Baron Rouge

Wine casks at the Baron Rouge

The oyster feast

The oyster feast

Buddy_roo considers trying one.

Buddy-Roo considers trying one

After oysters

After oysters

3 Responses to “Theory and Practice”

  • Anne-Marie Says:

    Thanks for this post! I remember coming across this sort of stuff in my psychology classes many years ago. My take is that because most of us accept a fair degree of responsibility for where we are in life (for most of us, having children was by choice not by accident) we are reluctant to acknowledge the aspects of our lives that are unsatisfactory. Your blog brings such a refreshing honesty to a sensitive subject. Thank you.

  • Wampole Says:

    Oh….oysters at the Baron Rouge!! Mmm…. Now that’s a family outing I’d sign on for!

  • Delphine Says:

    It took me quite a long time before I could say (sotto voce too) that I’m happy not to be permanently with my two marvellous daughter. It’s not politically correct. As a divorced mother, I should be sad not to have them with me all the time. And yet, I confess and now accept to feel free and released when their father’s week is coming. I have time for me, for my lover. And when I’m back with them, I’m happy. Of couse I miss them regularly, but regularly also I’m happy to be selfishly on my own. Happy to hear someone else say that motherhood is not always “the most wonderfull experience in the world” 😉

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