Calls of Duty

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dear Miss Manners:

I am a stay-at-home Dad, and my wife calls often during the day. I love her dearly and don't mind hearing that she loves me, but that's not what happens.

She calls and I hear about her day and problems. And while I am busy with our 3-year-old, holding the phone on my shoulder, I hear her typing something on her end.

I really feel insulted and upset. Is it poor manners to keep someone on the phone while you keep working? I don't want to be rude, but it bothers me.

I finally had to hang up on her yesterday when she called and kept me on the phone while I was trying to play baseball with our son in the yard, and she wasn't constantly talking, just coming up with spurts of what came to her as she Googled something.

She does ask about my day, but sometimes it seems an excuse, especially since she knows my schedule, and calls at least twice a day. Once I asked her to call only once a day. This was after I had retired from the Army and it felt like she was checking on me.

I realized I was wrong about that. She wants to talk. It is just not easy to talk and care for a child, or play with him. She knows this intellectually. What can I do?

What a nice reversal this is of "Honey, don't call me at the office."

Well, maybe not so nice, now that Miss Manners thinks about it. It sticks you with that insulting assumption that domestic work, including child rearing, is so unimportant as to be easily interrupted. (What is really important, according to the same people, is being out in the world carrying on about the importance of our children.) And your wife clearly needs a more challenging job.

Ask her to e-mail you instead. And during the transition period, apologize that you didn't answer the telephone because you left it indoors when you were out playing baseball, can't hear it when you're running his bath water, or whatever.

Dear Miss Manners:

It seems to be a recent trend in restaurants to add verticality to the plate. For example, perching a trout filet on a mound of greens that have been piled on a bed of rice.


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