Why heads butt in an empty nest

Much of the time that I worked at the local newspaper was spent in a small department. I was the special sections editor for several years and had, during the best of times, three staff writers who worked at desks nearby. (Plus a photographer and a couple shared designers, but their desks were elsewhere.)

raised hands

The great thing about our small department was that when one of us had a question regarding grammar or punctuation or AP Style, rather than look it up in the official guidelines, resources or style books, we'd take a department vote. The writer with a dilemma — very often myself for my writers were far smarter than I — would share her question, then everyone would mull it over and chime in with their opinion.

The answer ending up in print would be the one chosen based on majority rule. If two of us agreed the answer should be one thing and the other two had an opposing view, official sources would be consulted and followed. For the most part, though, majority rule was a time saver that worked in our favor.

Similarly, majority rule pretty much ruled the household when Jim and I shared the space with our three daughters.

What toppings should we order on the pizza?

Which movie should we watch?

Where do we want to go on vacation... or for Thanksgiving... or Christmas?

Except for a few obligatory attendances and outings, majority ruled in our family. And it worked quite well. As there were five of us in the household, there was always a majority that ruled, with no need to consult official sources of any sort as was done in my newspaper department.

Then the daughters moved out one by one and our nest emptied. Except for Dad and Mom, Jim and me.

And therein lies the problem when it comes to household decision making: There's no longer a majority. There's a couple. Two. Me and him.

Which leaves one of us making the final call — regarding dinner, date nights and more — the majority of the time.

Which also leaves one of us — the majority of the time — griping one of two gripes:

1. You always get to make the decisions. Why don't I ever get to decide anything?


2. You always leave the decisions up to me. Why do I have to be the one deciding everything?

Oh, to once again live by the majority rules rule.

Last week I mentioned to my daughters that I'm so thankful my dogs and cats can't talk. See, I was working on a surprise birthday gift for my husband, one in which friends of mine and Jim's sneakily visited my house to help — actually, to do most of the work — in preparing the gift for Jim. Unbeknownst to Jim, while he was away at work.

"Thank heavens the dogs and cats can't speak," I later said to Brianna and Andrea about the lies I had told Jim regarding the day's activities. "Otherwise, I'd have been totally busted."

This week I'm thinking it would be nice if the dogs and cats did talk. For if my dogs and cats talked, could share their opinions, at least there'd be additional votes cast when Jim and I have hard decisions to make — like what to order on our pizza. Or which movie to watch.

Then again, though, with two cats who would likely side with me and two dogs who would likely side with Jim, we'd still have no majority to rule.

Which leads me to believe it's high time Jim and I adopt — a third cat.

We can adopt a male cat — whereas our current two are females — to make for a more equally biased fifth member thus increasing the likelihood of an ever unpredictable majority-rule swing vote.

At the very least, it's high time Jim and I forget the majority rule rule and simply adopt a rule more befitting decision making in an empty nest.

(Though if the decision's left to me, I cast my vote for the cat.)

Today's question:

When did you last make a decision by tossing a coin?