For as long as I can remember my son wanted a dog. After ‘Dad’, his first words were ‘Woof’ as he honed in on his super-sonic ability to identify each and every pooch in the neighborhood from our front step. We spotted and waved to every dog we passed on our walks to the park and loved stories about dogs too.
Fast forward to school years and things got trickier – I mean; why DO teachers introduce data collection lessons by posing the question ‘What pet do you have?’ I got the devastating report that we were in the lowest fraction of kids in the class with a big fat ‘zero’ pets.
Though he didn’t let up. Fruit for brain break at school started supporting his campaign for a canine pal – why write your name when you can write ‘I want a puppy’ on the side of your banana? Then there was the fairy garden incident – a message in a bottle for the fairies had him convinced that indeed he would wake up to a cute puppy licking his face.
It was time for us to address the issue before (before we risked his belief in fairies – and what next? Santa?!)
So, this year – we got a puppy. A cute little fluff ball called Basil with a mischievous sense of adventure and a keen appetite for fun (and food!)
There were oohs and ahhhs and ‘he’s so cute’ and puppy school and play dates and…. Reality.
“What?! This dog has to be fed every day?”
“I have to pick up poos? Ewww!”
“He needs to be played with? And walked?”
Yes, it was a harsh learning curb for my poor never-had-a-pet-before children. How easily reality becomes a bore and so do the routines that are necessary for us to stay organized in our lives.
After much arguing about ‘who’s turn’ it was I handed them a piece of paper and a pen and said “work it out”.
I was pretty amazed by what they came up with. Basil gets fed morning and night so a little chart was drawn with their names and a sun for the morning and a moon for the night (this really satisfied my visual brain and early childhood tendencies!!)
We printed out a published copy and stuck it on the wall with all their other routines (yes, my poor kids have an anal mother for routine!) and there it has lived ever since.
So, every morning and night now I can avoid the obvious lines of “You STILL haven’t fed Basil?! You always wanted a dog and this is how you treat him? You are so irresponsible!” and simple say
“Basil is hungry”
to which my children check their self-organized chart and get on with the job that is theirs.
Which THEY controlled. Which THEY agreed on.
With all this in mind however, I’m simply choosing to ‘overlook’ my daughters love of kittens.