This phrase was coined especially for Paul when I found him out in the yard working diligently on a project. Projects that I had been nagging about for weeks, he suddenly had time for. Finding him outside with rake or hoe or down in the basement with drill or hammer would arouse a feeling of suspicion. I’d think, Why so motivated? Why are you working on this project when nothing I said motivated you before?

Then it would hit me. He’s supposed to be making calls to such-and-such place or so-and-so company. He has the account and the customer service agent won’t allow me to do anything with the account. Or … there is an application for a job due. Nothing motivates Paul like the last minute … except perhaps an expectation to make a call or press the “on” button on the computer. For Paul, nothing could be more abhorrent than being attached to some technological device. So, whenever I find him whipping through the house and repairing things or roaring through the yard weedwhacking or chopping wood, I can bet that there is a phone call or piece of computer work far more important being left undone.

Paul is not the only offender. I will find myself cooking a fancy dinner when a simple one would do, or folding clothes when I need to be making calls, or checking my emails when I need to be paying bills. Of course, I’m much more adept at looking like the task at hand is very important or Paul is much more reticent to be up in my grill than I am to get up in his. He minds his own business so much better than I do.

I started a new blog yesterday. The place is in shambles. I’ve got clothes flung over every available piece of furniture, the clog in the sink returned, empty and half-filled boxes are strewn over the floor, the kids skipped lunch, and I’m typing away, discussing Charlotte Mason’s educational ideas as cooly as a Manhattan mother with a full-time nanny at her beckoning would be discussing preppy preschools with her frenemies.

Paul would have a complete right to gloat about my extreme productive stalling now, but of course, he wouldn’t. He’d cover for me and say that I needed to escape the mental strain of packing with no place to go. He’d make me a cup of tea and coddle me and shush the children so I could focus.

So today, I chided myself and told myself to get back on task. I fixed the clog again, broke the little piece that holds the thumbscrew to control the snake, gorilla glued it back together, only to see the clog return again in an hour. I packed a few boxes, and then pulled weeds. Why do I need to pull weeds on a house that’s being taken away? I don’t know. But suddenly, I feel that pulling weeds is an extremely important activity right now — emergency status. Those weeds won’t even think about popping up again.

By the way, the new blog is The Gentle Art of Learning at Support my productive stalling efforts and check it out.