Monday, October 29, 2007

Saran Wrap, Zippers, and Knowing Everyting

Long before my parents got to that awkward stage where they didn't know anything, I began realizing that grown-ups weren't perfect.

It was my Auntie Colleen who shattered my image of adults by confessing to me that she has trouble with her coat zippers. I was flabbergasted. I couldn't zip up my coat, but I was a little girl. I thought that all grown ups could zip zippers, but here was Auntie Colleen, struggling with her zipper right before my very eyes.

Not too long after this discovery, I entered my teenage years where I, of course, knew everything.

I have a theory of why most teenagers go through this stage. When you're little, you believe that your parents have the answers for everything, and that all grown ups are simply fountains of knowledge. They know everything, they can do anything; they are just perfect.

But then you start to notice that they don't actually know everything. There are some things that your parents don't know. There are things they can't fix. There are questions that remain without answers. This is a hard concept to accept. Someone has to have all the answers, right?

So, to combat the internal turmoil caused by this discovery, teens attempt to become the ones who know everything. Very often, the only ones they trick into thinking this are themselves, but everyone is very obliging and lets them think that they have all the answers.

Most people go through the know-it-all stage. The idea is to get out of it before you make any serious choices that can mess up your life for a long time.

I'm still getting out of that stage, myself--everyday with Rachel is an adventure, and she helps me become more and more humble. We play a lot of guessing games to find out what she needs. More and more grown-up situations are arising in mine and Andrew's life that force us to ask for advice. And I still can't rip saran wrap.

Very occasionally I rip the saran wrap and it is perfect. More often, it will rip fine for an inch or two and then I will end up stretching and pulling until the end when I come out with a very skewed piece of saran wrap that I have to unwrinkle before I can use. The ratio of the perfect rip to the latter kind is probably 1 to 19. Pathetic, I know. I think it might have something to do with a wrist flick that I just haven't mastered.

Rachel's going to grow up thinking that crumpled triangular-ish sheets of saran wrap are normal. I'm afraid she will never aspire to the clean cut rectangles that, in my mind, all successful adults can accomplish.

I was bemoaning my flaw to Andrew after putting the leftovers away (involving some sad attempts at covering things with awkward pieces of saran wrap), and consoled myself by telling him that my aunt can't zip her own coat. We then started trying to think up something that he can't do but, by definition of being an adult, should be able to.

He seems to check out on everything, but I'll get back to you if I think of something.

What's something you still can't do perfectly?

Here's the criteria:

1) It has to be something you grew up thinking all grown ups could do. This varies from person to person. My cousins grew up knowing that not all adults could zip their coats; I did not. Rachel will grow up knowing that not all adults can rip saran wrap, while I grew up thinking this was merely a childish flaw.

2) You can't have a valid reason for not being able to do it (for example, because you are too scared/ticklish/lazy or any other reason). You must simply and genuinely not be able to do it.

3) It must be a mundane, everyday thing. I can't scuba dive or fly a plane, but these things aren't "life skills," so to speak.

I'm interested to find out...


  1. I must confess I also struggle with saran wrap. I've worked on it and I'd like to think I'm getting better, but maybe this particular roll is just different or something... Karen will grow up just like Rachel in that I'm afraid! I'm also pretty bad at keeping the contents of any cup or glass from ending up all down the front of me. That may just be pregnancy-induced, but I think it's just part of who I am. Sad...

  2. I have a number of things to say here. First of all, I remember when I realized my dad wasn't superman and it wasn't until my first year of college. That's kind of like realizing parents don't know everything. I had asked him to fix my coat ZIPPER (maybe there's something to that theme) and he couldn't do it - my zipper was to remain broken. I was devastated, but more by realizing he couldn't do it.
    Also, I know how to solve your seran wrap follies. Buy it from Costco. I also hate seran wrap because it's hard to rip, plus the cheaper stuff doesn't stick to containers well anyway. I've never priced the stuff from Costco because my parents buy it, but I will have it in my life forever. It has it's own little cutter thing and it sticks to stuff! Seriously, it's worth whatever it costs (plus, it's costco, so it's a huge roll anyway and might be comparable in price).
    So, what can't I do? The only thing I can think of right now - though I'm sure there's more - is tie bows when I'm not looking at them (like behind my back or under my chin - as in, I learned this at the temple). All the adults around me seem to do just fine, but not me.

  3. To add to the zipper theme, Andrew used zipper ties until his mission.

  4. Well, I finally learned to tie shoes the "right" way--but it took me a long, long time. I still rarely wear shoes that tie, a legacy of my embarrassment over not being able to tie properly. I finally learned WITH my kids. I remember as a BYU student helping with a special needs swim and one of the children, clearly not up to the intelligence level of a university student, feeling sorry for me because she could tie and I could not. (Nancy's mom)

  5. I am glad to say that I can cut saran wrap, open and close zippers, and tie my shoes properly!!! I can reach things on the top shelf generally without having to step on a stool or counter, I can open jars... but I can't seem to walk from point a to point b with out tripping over an imaginary bumb on the floor... It's always there, just for me! So if you ever see me stumble whilst walking on an otherwise barren floor, don't worry! I apparently haven't learned to walk properly :)

  6. Saran wrap, zippers, tripping over invisible objects, and tying shoes. This is quite the assortment of quirks we have gathered. Unfortunately for me, unlike these others (except maybe tripping over invisible objects), mine is one that I have to do everyday and at least have the time don't succeed in.
    I confess that I never learned how to drink. It's been several weeks in a row now that I've choked on the water during the sacrament. Inhaling from a drinking fountain is also common place and it stings when it's orange juice (not in the drinking fountain, mind you). I still have hope that I'll learn some day. (David's brother)

  7. ok, this is the only thing I can think of...but you know those plastic ring things around whipping cream containers that you buy on the frozen aisle. I never can open those! I end up tugging and stretching and finally using brute strength to slide them off of the whipping cream containers. Apparently there some place where you can rip it through and then take it off...I can never find that place!

  8. One more quirk....I am terrible with names. I can't get them right. By David's brother, I meant Nancy's. David's my name. Duh....

  9. I thought of another! Apparently, according to Daniel, I can't drink right either (Thanks David for reminding me). Both my mom and Daniel say that I can't drink like normal adults do. I take bitty sips at a time since I feel like I am going to drown myself if I drink more heavily.

    Also, Nancy, I thought it quite funny that you listed laziness as a VALID reason for not being able to do something....

  10. See, there are a lot of things that Andrew "can't" do.

    He can't put lotion on his feet because he's too ticklish to do it himself.

    He can't clip the baby's fingernails because he's too scared to.

    He can't sew buttons back on his shirt because he's just too lazy. He admitted this himself. :)

  11. So it looks like a lot of us can't drink right--I often choke on water, too. And, Joy, I am forever spilling water down my front.

    I think that juice was banned from the dinner table on my behalf. Spilling water is much less dangerous than spilling juice.

  12. And, David--

    Wow! Rachel just screamed for the past 12 hours. I think she's teething (I hope she's teething! This can't be the new normal!)

    I was uber grumpy after she finally fell asleep. Andrew was, too, truthfully.

    But we read your comments and, oh boy, we're are in great moods now.

    What a hoot!

  13. I can't whistle properly. I can make noise come out that sounds like whistling, but I can't actually really whistle... It's strange. I can't explain it in typing! LOL. And yes, everyone in my family and extended family, all the adults, etc and so forth, as far as I know, CAN whistle. I just always thought it was something people could DO.

  14. PS. How on earth do you find time to post so much? LOL. I can't usually find time to get one or two out in a month, and you manage it almost every day! I'm impressed.

  15. Heidi--you have a blog?!?! What is it? I've never seen it!

    I write a lot because it's kind of therapy for me. I'm home alone with Rachel all day--and I do have a lot to do, but I write while I breastfeed (which means that most things are typed one-handed; it's pretty tricky business).

    I do a lot of other stuff, too, but writing has always been an outlet for me so it's essential that I do it. I used to keep a daily journal on paper and would write pages and pages and pages--now I have a box full of paper. Blogging is better because it isn't as messy :)

    I guess I find the time to do it because I've been doing it since I was six...just not in blog form. I have journal entries that are up to 13 pages long in my six year old journal. I have a lot to say and I have to say it or I drive myself crazy turning things over in my head. LOL. I guess I'm just crazy.

    (PS...I really want to read your blog...if it's available)

  16. I can't drink, I struggle with zippers (particularly tent zippers), I trip over imaginary bumps, and can NEVER open the whip cream containers. Turns out I'm pretty much an incapable human being, but the worst thing for me, is that "hurry up" finger smacking sound that I thought all grown women could do. (The one where you shake your hand really fast and it makes kindof a snapping sound when your fingers smack together.)

    My dad never did it, probably because he was never in a hurry, but my mom did it anytime we were leaving the house; for church, school, a walk, going to the park, the list goes on. Unfortunately since I never learned this trick, all I do is say "we're late!" "we have to leave in 3 more minutes!" "Do you have everything ready?" "I'm in the car honking" and other annoying "hurry-up" phrases. Maybe it comes with being a mom and I'll learn it later.

  17. Amy, did your mom serve a mission?

    My brother does that--he served in Brazil. Apparently it's pretty common in South American countries.

    I can't do it. I practiced and practiced and practiced.

    I also resort to hurry-up phrases. :)

  18. She sure did, I never knew it was a South American thing....but if she learned it that late in her life, maybe there's still hope for me.

  19. I love this piece, Nancy.
    Well actually there are many things I can't do and never could... Like I CANNOT fix a decent meal when all my friends are wonderful or good cooks... It seems to me so awesome that I start freezing up in the food store even if I have a perfectly planned meal. I just can't get over it... And when I try because I do try, things end up burnt or worse!
    I'm lucky my husband doesn't have a boss to invite over for a meal if you see what I mean!

  20. I can't whistle either... I can make that strange kind of a whistle sound also... but it's not a whistle, it's a wannabe whistle!

  21. yes i do. :) email me and i'll send you the link. i prefer not to have it posted on other people's blogs though, please. :) it isn't very exciting though...
    i understand about writing being therapeutic! though i think you've got it down better than i do.

  22. I've discovered another of my lousy non-talents. Writing in a Blog. I mean, if Nancy can do it, can't any adult? And here I am posting my second entry five months after I start the blog. I hope when I have children that they don't look at me and say, "Dad, I thought you were Superman until I read your blog."

  23. Man--you have a blog, too? This I've never seen. It's not on your profile.