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Little Spouse On The Prairie: Getting Closure

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Alexander Graham Bell famously said, “When one door closes, another opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”  We don’t have this problem in our house, because no doors are ever closed.  Cupboards, drawers, toothpaste tubes, toilet seats, milk jugs, toy chests and mouths -- all are fated to remain ever gaping.

One parenting article I read said that people who constantly leave doors and drawers open may suffer from attention and memory issues.  Not shutting doors could also symbolize a deeper difficulty in bringing closure to more serious situations.  "I may be going back to that drawer or cabinet later for something, so I'll leave it open for now," is evidently the subconscious thought.

Okay.  I’m going to be honest.  I don’t buy that psychological explanation.  Of course, my husband’s going need something from that drawer at some point.  Or at least, I would hope so.  He keeps his clean underwear in there! Is Millie really subconsciously wondering whether she’s going to need something from her make-up drawer ever again? Besides, if it were true that people who do not close cupboards have attention and memory problems and the inability to bring completion, every teenager I know suffers from a deep-seated psychological issue. Oh.  Well . . . I just mean I don’t think leaving cupboards open indicates much about a person’s mental health.

I think we just have a bigger issue with thresholds in general.  I am forever walking into a room only to forget why I went in. Usually, I am distracted from my original purpose because I have to shut three drawers and close two cupboards the second I enter.

If anything, I think that an obsession with shutting doors, cabinets, containers, and toilet seats is probably more of a marker for mental health issues than forgetting to shut them is.  Einstein is credited with saying the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  But I’m not that far gone yet, because I have learned to expect that I will be the only one who cares.

We also seem to struggle with the concept of winterizing doors and windows.  Joel’s theory is that we don’t have to put the screen doors on in spring if we’ve left them on all winter.  On the flip side, we don’t have to put the storm doors on in if we’ve left the screen doors on all winter.  Expediency is key here, but we might also want to consider economy.

At some point, we plan to run an experiment in which we track which option costs us less in the long run.  But since we are currently on a four-year stint with the storm doors, we’ll have to start it some year when we get around to popping on those screen doors.  We’ll have to run a new baseline test though because I think energy costs have doubled since we obtained our first data four years ago.

I think the reason we are on such a long storm door run, is that the last time Joel put them on, it was late March during a freak blizzard, and since he had just put them on the week before spring break, I couldn’t bring myself to ask him to switch out during his time off teaching.  That, and there were seven other home improvement projects that had been on the list since 2003 that I was hoping he’d start during break.

It’s not that big a deal really.  The only time I ever notice we still have the storm doors on during the summer is when the glass becomes so smeared that I can’t see out.  Since having children, my fastidiousness has eased up so much, that really, I only wake up sweating and clutching my chest about the storm doors still being on in July about twice to three times a summer.  And honestly, the sweating could be because, to save money on energy costs, we’ve stopped using the air conditioner at nights.

I think we need to change Alexander Graham Bell’s maxim to, “When one door closes, there will likely be four others that have been left open for the cool air to escape.” I’ve always assured my kids that I have an “open-door” policy when it comes to discussing tough issues, and I guess this is their touching way of expressing their need for me.     

Host of Little Spouse on the Prairie, a regional comedy feature that airs Sundays at 8:35 a.m. during Weekend Edition.