Hi there everybody. I’m Phil Lerman, author of the recently published “Dadditude.” I was very excited when Homemom invited me to do a guest blog today. Heck, when you’re a stay-at-home dad, you’re happy for ANY excuse to relate to other grownups. When I go out for business meetings now, I find myself sitting at lunch with clients and saying, “My, what a pretty tie! Did your mommy buy that tie for you?”
I noticed that Homemom was wondering why guys hate to ask directions, and can’t stand when their wives start to try to navigate – but we love our GPS tracking systems in our cars. After extensive research (I asked my wife and my friend Scott, who are a woman and a man, respectively), I have your answer.
My wife, the sociobiologist, says that all our behaviors can be traced genetically back to our caveperson days. My friend Scott, the real estate guy, needs to find lots of addresses in neighborhoods he never goes to. Me, I just get lost a lot. So here’s how it all fits together.
Men navigate by numbers and directions. We like to focus directly on our prey, and hit it without distraction. This comes from the days when we were hunters: When you’re chasing the mastodon, you can’t be looking around at the trees.
Women navigate by landmarks. They look around a lot as they navigate. This comes from your days as gatherers, when you had to notice all the berries on all the different trees. If you got too focused, you missed the berries.
Men say: Go three blocks. Then turn left. Women say: Go down to the Starbucks. Then turn left. Men say: There’s a Starbucks there? I never noticed. Women say: That’s because you are an idiot. (Women say that to me a lot, actually).
This is why women are better shoppers than men: You love malls because you can gather there. Lots to look at. Men hate them because they are too distracting. My favorite mall would be called the Black Shoes In Size Eleven Triple-E Mall. I’d go, I’d get my shoes, I’d come home and watch football.
And this is also why men and women can’t give each other directions.
You could take all the street signs down in your city, and women wouldn’t notice. They’d get home via landmarks. Men, on the other hand, would wander aimlessly for days, asking each other, “Is this, by any chance, Seventh Street?”
Which is why we love our GPS. It speaks in a woman’s voice (we always set it to the woman’s voice), but it gives directions like a man. Go two-point-three miles. Then turn LEFT. The map is, delightfully, devoid of all landmarks.
And unlike my wife, my GPS does not need to turn the map upside down when we are headed south.
I’m not saying our directions are any better than yours, mind you – just different. I actually heard my wife give her friend directions to our house the other day, like this: “Keep driving until you see that store that used to always have the red dress in the window. Turn left there.” What’s more amazing, the friend arrived for lunch, on time.
I think that once you accept that we speak different languages in all sorts of ways – giving directions, for example, or say, raising the children – then you can start to translate for each other. And maybe learn each other’s languages a bit. That’s what I try to do in Dadditude: It’s a humorous look at parenting, but I also like to think of it as a translation device for parents. A way to learn to speak both distinct languages, the Mother Tongue and Daddy-speak.
If you can master that, you can even, probably, give each other directions without going crazy.
You can read more about Dadditude, or order the book, at Phil Lerman’s website, dadditude.com – or you can just go there and listen to the cool music.