why is my husband on the roof with no shoes and a power saw?

Gotta love him

So I came home from my friend Susan’s baby shower today to find The Mister on the roof of the garage with a very large power tree trimmer. He decided to trim the dead branches off of our neighbors’ tree that’s more in our yard than theirs. He felt like it was a safety hazard for our children. This coming from a man who is standing on top of our very sloped roof with a large moving blade, without any help. No back up. No SHOES and he was the adult in charge of five boys, who thankfully were inside watching some Star Wars thing. He starts sawing off branches and keeps going and going and going. There are huge treelike branches falling from the sky. There are various wires and cables strung from some pole to our house and our neighbors’ houses. The branches are falling on the wires. Seriously some of these branches were over ten feet long.

So in between sawing I ask him about his little project. Didn’t you think maybe this sort of thing should include some planning or back up or SHOES? No. It’s no big deal. Everything is no big deal. In the winter he climbs up onto above mentioned sloped garage roof and hops over to the sloped house roof and shovels snow off the roof while he is standing on it. For years I have asked him not to. He insists that it’s fine. No. Big. Deal.

There’s a few different things going on here, as you might guess. Why would this man, the father of my children (who are inside the house) take on this dangerous task on a whim? When I am trying to grill flank steak near the garage why does he say to me, “Are you able to get into the garage if you need to?” and not


why are dangerous and, one might argue, foolish tasks, NO BIG DEAL? or why is my husband on the roof with no shoes and a power saw?

I only found one reference to boys and problem solving, in The Wonder of Boys by Michael Gurian. Please note that all the information I found on the topic at hand concerned BOYS, not 33-year-old men. This in itself may be part of the problem…

Gurian mentions that males move to problem solving as quickly as they can. They see a problem, it bothers them and they must fix it right away. (p 24). This may not describe all men but it sure as hell describes mine. He can be easily and quickly distracted from the task at hand by a minor repair or cleaning job that takes him away from what I wanted him to do. I ask him to clean the bathroom for a party, he cleans the grout in the bathroom; because it needed it. Yea, but mostly I just wanted you to clean up all the pee on the floor.

I found a lot more information on risk-taking differences. While cleaning the grout is a problem to be solved at least it doesn’t involve the possibility of  partial paralysis, but to The Mister, it’s no big deal. We already know from our past research that boys are bigger risk takers than girls. Interestingly I didn’t find any research on adult men. It seems that this behavior isn’t quite so normal in a grown man. In Why Gender Matters  by Leonard Sax, I learned several things that fit my situation to a T. Boys are more likely to attribute an accidental injury not to anything that they might have done or not done, but to bad luck. (p. 42)I could see The Mister saying that, “Every other time I climb around on the roof, I’m just fine!” The fact that he had fallen off the roof wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that he probably shouldn’t have been up there to begin with. Boys systematically overestimate their abilities, which I also believe we already knew. While The Mister assumes that nothing bad will happen when he tasks a risk like that, I assume nothing but bad stuff will happen, so I don’t do it. I’m not sure that’s necessarily a good thing, in all cases.

Here’s my favorite tidbit from Sax. A scientist took over twenty years of data on a wild monkey population and found that when the monkeys were born, there were an even amount of males and females, but by adulthood, there were 5 females to every 1 male. You want to know why? Because all the male monkeys are climbing up on the roofs of garages to cut down giant branches without shoes on. The answer truly was that males took part in many more risky behaviors than females and just plain died. (pp. 44-45) Super.

What can I do to keep The Mister from jumping into these situations where he’s honestly fixing a problem and also honestly believes that nothing will go wrong? I’ve tried scare tactics, but coming from me; Ms. Paranoid, non-risk taking worry wart, my scare tactics lose a lot of their oomph. Maybe I should take away his power saw? One of the books did talk about how to prevent your adolescent from participating in risky behavior. In the scenario the kid was doing dangerous stuff on his bike (which The Mister would totally cop to) and the dad put a giant lock on his bike. Tomorrow I’ll go out and get a giant lock, hopefully one a power saw can’t cut through.

The greatest dad in the world, as long as he stays off the roof, or at least wears appropriate footwear and has a spotter.


2 Responses to “why is my husband on the roof with no shoes and a power saw?”

  1. June 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Are you going to have a bonfire with all those big branches? One risky behavior should follow another.

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