• Jeni Kelsch

Fiddling While Rome Burns...

Updated: Jun 20, 2018



I have often been accused of being an optimist. I think it’s mostly because I am terrible at recognizing a crisis.

When my son was 10 he fell at the skate park, I asked him why he was crying and put an ace bandage on his wrist. Three days later we discovered it was broken. He is 19 now and he still


(perhaps justly) has not forgiven me. He has also suffered from allergies his whole life. The boy has sneezed his way through every season, event, meal, birthday, holiday and class he has ever been in. I think the only reason he was born so quickly is because of his first tremendous sneeze. I always thought he’d outgrow his allergies. When he sneezed himself into his size 13 shoes I had to admit I may be wrong. Last month he was tested for allergies and we discovered he is basically allergic to life, but shots will cure him. All’s well that ends well, I say. He says 19 years of suffering was a little too long to wait and see. Pessimist.

At least I’m not a very good optimist. Good optimists can be so annoying, they are relenting, nothing gets them down. They wake up with a smile on their face and can express complete thoughts in bubbly good cheer before their feet hit the floor. I can see how that could ruin anybody’s day. Good optimists say things like “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” When I was in labor with my children I begged my husband to kill me and raise the children on his own. The only shred of my optimism left was the thought that he could remember all the children and ensure that they were all fully clothed when he left the house without me. It was a long shot, but I was willing to take it.

My husband is the gatekeeper of my ideas. I must admit, some of my ideas may not be the best, or safe, or legal. Since I have a hard time discerning the good from the bad, I always check with him. He lets me down easy, “That will never work, here’s why…” is how he likes to begin. I really do admire his patience. If he just said that will never work, he would ignite the stubborn flame that burns quietly in the center of my being, and he does not want to mess with fire. But my sweet husband always offers me a here’s why. And that here’s why really helps. He shows me the impracticality

of my designs, the flaws in my systems, the inaccuracies of my plans, and ultimately has saved us from financial ruin, imprisonment, and neighbors on countless occasions. And what’s even better is sometimes, rarely, but just enough, he says..maybe that will work. And even better, when he comes home to a new chicken coop in his parking space and an escaped goat on the front porch, he smiles gently, takes my hand, kisses it lovingly and whispers, “this will never work, here’s why..” and I rest in the knowledge he’s only speaking about the livestock and not our marriage, so far.

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