sometimes it’s just the kid

by ck on January 16, 2013

It was already one of those days. Gray and chilly, vacillating between mist and light rain. The kind of quilt-book-and-a-nap day I loved before having kids. The kind of day I hope to love again. But not now. Not today. TWO is bored and whiny. The dogs are at each other. There are at least 9 hours left before my husband will return. All that stretches before us is time. (And an especially small-feeling house.)

So I leash up the dogs, direct TWO to her scooter, and lead us all out of the house…and far away from it. We need a long walk. Preferably one in a different neighborhood, which will give us the least chance of running into people we know. There are just some days when it’s best not to be seen.

TWO rides circles around us, which distracts the puppy enough to make him miserable to walk, but not enough to keep him from dangling off of our older dog’s face like a broken ornament. We recently started working with a trainer, and while he responds well to everything we learn, when we’re not practicing, he rebells for no reason at all. Like now, because he’s on a walk.

Whining and growling carry much further in the fog than I would’ve imagined, and have an unexpected boomerang effect; they continuously return, spinning around my head in an old-timey cartoon fashion. Scooter Girl keeps whining, the dogs keep barking, their leashes french-braiding themselves around my legs and the poop baggies in my hands.

And then this beautiful woman emerges from the fog like an angel. A tall, ethereal poodle at her side, not a hair on either of their heads concerned with the weather. They look like each other. Regal. Confident. Ready to save the world. Or maybe just me in my grubby-by-comparison outfit, complete with traces of make-up past. I smile at her as we near each other, still pretty sure she’ll vanish back into the mist if I get too close, or if my dogs break the spell. Which they do. In their first synchronized move of the day, they drag me over to this majestic dog, who barely deigns to gaze in their direction. The puppy sniffs her and howls. The poodle looks offended.

Sorry about that,” I offer to the dog. I still can’t bring myself to make eye contact with the angel.  “We’ve been working with a trainer, but the rest of the time he’s just worse. They say it’s normal, but…”

Scooter Girl zooms by, re-expressing her life’s one-and-only desire: to return home. The puppy whips around and tries to eat her heels.

Well, you know what they say,” declares the angel (“they” undoubtedly being the heavenly creatures with whom she communes on a regular basis), “It’s not the dog…” She smiles at me, as if handing me advice I’d just paid $.25 into her machine for. “When we are inconsistent, dogs misbehave.”

I smile back, knowing I’ll spend the rest of the dreary day coming up with blistering retorts to shut her down with, because at that moment I can’t think of one. She takes my silence as a cue to continue.

He’s gonna be a handful…” she observes, as the puppy does some frenetic motion that looks like he’s trying to sacrifice himself to the poodle.

Oh, my older dog was that way too,” I hear myself say. It’s true. I’m surprised I remember. We both look over at the limp retriever remains at my side. Admittedly, it doesn’t appear very likely. “I mean, she’s 13 now, but when she was younger…

No, I mean behaviorally. She had issues like this, too?”

I thank the angel for her time and turn to collect Scooter Girl, for I can no longer stand in the presence of such a being. She and her poodle trot back off into the mist from whence they came, undoubtedly to bring blessings from above to other frazzled people in their path.

I’m a new mom all over again. Doing laps at the mall with one hand pushing the stroller, the other trying to keep the pacifier in the baby’s mouth, desperately willing her to stop crying and fall asleep. Kind of circling the periphery of older, more experienced moms who seem to have it under control. Hoping for a crumb of encouragement. Something. Anything. And instead being handed that look.

And with that memory comes a retort, an understanding. Not nearly as biting as the one I’d hoped for, but with the surprising calm of someone who really has learned a thing or two over the years of being a mom.

It’s not always the parent.

Sometimes it’s just the kid.

Or in this case, it’s just both dogs. (And the kid.)





{ 1 comment }

Jessica January 16, 2013 at 7:57 am

Well that was obnoxious of her. People really should just nod and smile more and mind their own business. Had same thing with our dog. He trashed my house repeatedly and some genius wanted tell ne how to crate him. Like we haven’t done that. He breaks out. Thanks for the unasked for input lady lol. Puppies are just as stubborn as toddlers. I’m with you- sometimes its just the dog!!!!

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