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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Guilt Equity

It’s been three weeks since my wife got her iPhone. The “surprise” was an unqualified success. Not only does she enjoy it for itself, but she’s also able to enjoy it with Emma, who currently uses her iTouch as most kids use their Nintendo DS’s, giving her a little extra play time with her in a venue that was once my exclusive domain. Perhaps most importantly, it has allowed me to build some rare and precious guilt equity.

My wife has directed her disappointed looks, scornful glares, and incredulous brow-raised remonstrances if not for the last time, perhaps at a significantly discounted rate. Because you can’t yell, “I want you two to put down your ‘devices’ and play a game ‘together’” when you’re in the midst of a heated game of Words with Friends yourself, especially when your husband is watching you from the kitchen where he is doing dishes.

I don’t even mind doing the dishes at times like that, because I feel some of the pressure bleed slowly away, like maybe next time I won’t feel QUITE so guilty checking my Zombie Café a few minutes after I get in the door, when she’s ALMOST cracked the next “Ham ‘Em High” level in Angry Birds and hasn't yet uttered a "hello" from the table where she's sitting, or directed a curious glance in the direction of the sound of the opening door.  Which is not to say that the iPhone has consumed my energetic (at least until 9) and efficient, hardworking wife's attention.  It hasn't.  She still accomplishes all the things she ever accomplished. . . but she finds time to examine the screen, consider her move, submit her word, and THEN move to her next chore.  More like her husband.

And yeah, now we can put all our schedules on one mutual schedule and we’ll be more organized, and yeah, she can download her own music and apps and show Lily a Dora cartoon on her phone if she gets too amped up, and I feel good about myself for getting the phone for her for those reasons. But it’s also nice to watch that ivory tower topple. . . literally within the first day or two of having it. . . and feeling like, okay, maybe I AM being lazy and maybe I AM finishing this one last level of Fragger before I make the kids’ lunches. . . but nobody is hustling behind me, pushing through the evening fatigue and getting them done on HER timeframe, wordlessly ratcheting up my guilt with her responsible efficiency. . . because she’s on the couch, her neck bent, face lit by the pale fire behind the iPhone’s hi-res touch screen, getting one last turn in on Hanging with Friends.

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