Walking Your Dog in the Morning

We’re all continuing to adjust to the added responsibilities Doggie has brought to us and our happy home. Being a puppy with a small bladder, she needs constant walking day and night. Ever the trooper, wife handles the overnight shifts. I’m gone; oblivious to the world. Wife once told me a story of one of our children climbing on me, crying, hitting me and screaming, “Dad!” I didn’t hear them. Didn’t feel anything. Wife asked, “Didn’t you hear anything?” Umm…. No.

I am, however, awake early in the morning bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready to start the day. I spend these glorious mornings switching laundry, washing dishes, making coffee for me and Wife and pounding the keyboard about my glorious domestic exploits. So, as you read this, remember I woke up early to do this for you. You’re welcome.

If I am to take Doggie for a constitutional, I may or may not have one of the smaller children with me. There was one time The Boy and I were out to walk the dog around the block. There was some slight miscommunication as to how far we were actually going to walk. We both agreed we would walk around the block, but there happens to be a street that runs through the middle of our street. The Boy thought we were going to just walk around our half of the street but me being the taskmaster and architect behind the forced marches at Valley Forge and, closer to home, our own neighborhood after school, I decided we would walk the length of the entire block.

A boy and his dog. Photo by Sam Lion on Pexels.com

Keep in mind, this is the same Miracle of Christ who insists he doesn’t need a jacket in the middle of winter. I had Doggie. If the boy took her, I don’t think we’d ever see either of them again. I would miss the dog and would have to explain to wife what happened to The Boy.

We reach the intersection and The Boy is about to make a turn. I stop at the corner while Doggie sniffs curiously at a patch of grass or asphalt. Something incredible is down there and only she knows what it is. I call to The Boy and tell him we are walking the whole block. He eyebrows furrow. He looks at me with an open mouth. Do I not understand how cold it is? Of course I do. Why else would I invade his privacy everyday by telling him to put on a jacket. I’m not like other parents. I don’t love my children.

The Boy tells me we are curtailing this trek and heading home. It’s cold. There’s a YouTube channel that won’t watch itself. Why would I do this to him. Doggie hasn’t peed yet and I don’t want to clean the floor again. Plus, I’m still trying to work off the fruitcake that was calling my name and seducing me over the holidays. No excuses, says one of the child labor experts. It’s cold and he’s tired. My unfeeling ears hear none of this (They’re cold.) I tell him we need to walk the entire block. The Boy, in a fit of protest, sits down on the ground and removes his boots. Yes. Cold butt. Cold feet. That’ll show me.

We’ve now reached the point where I remind The Boy we could have been home already. He’s tired. He can’t do it. I need to carry him. I tell him I can’t I’m tired. He needs to carry me and walk Doggie.

What we did. (Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com)

The Boy picks up his boots and trudges onward. I’m imagining the story he’s going to have for his teacher at the next Zoom meeting. I interrupt my own train of thought to advise him to put his boots on. It might make his walk easier. After all, he did say he was cold.

What The Boy thinks we did. (Photo by Flo Maderebner on Pexels.com)

We get back home. Doggie has done her business. The Boy stomps his feet to the television where he basks in front of the warm glow of some mind-numbing drivel showing a walkthrough of Roblox or a Nintendo Switch game. As he thaws from the 30-minute session (five of which were actually spent walking), he curses my name and cruelty. He swears he’s going to be a better parent than me. Oaths are made. This resentment only lasts so long as someone, I won’t say who, but someone needs to read to him that night.

Child on the Go

“You know I can’t stand still.” – AC/DC

The chair is only in the room for decoration.

One of the complaints about baseball is that it takes too long to play. In Major League Baseball, steps have been taken to help speed things along. There were some people who didn’t like the batter stepping out of the box after each pitch. The pitcher would walk around the mound, blow on his hands, wipe sweat off his forehead, grab the resin bag, motion for the hot dog vendor to bring him something to eat, run to the bullpen to see if anyone wanted something. There were little things that were taking time away from the game itself.

I think of this as I tell you about my son, The Boy, who can take the simplest task and turn it into a union project that makes the Big Dig look like a quick run through a fast-food drive-thru. For my friends who do not live in Massachusetts, look up The Big Dig.

We’re still not sure what it is exactly that ails The Boy. It could be Ants in the Pants, hyperactivity, boredom. Pick something. We’re open to suggestions so we can identify it and treat it.

One of the Gaggle first noticed it about the boy. When the family sits down to dinner, it will be a matter of seconds before he is out of his seat, running around the table, playing with the cat. It has now reached the point where The Gaggle will watch the clock and let everyone know how long he was able to sit still.

This constant need for movement and inability to stay in one place is not just limited to the dinner table. One of the underlying issues of The Homework Wars involves Boy Genius’ stroll around the bedroom after writing one word. After two words, he needs a snack. Three merits a bathroom break. Four? He’s tired and he needs to lie down on his bed.

Math involves the same. He does one problem and he needs the bathroom. Wait. I haven’t dressed yet. I need breakfast. (I made it for him two hours ago.) He wants to check on Kitty. He wants to see if Doggie is okay. He just needs to lie down on the floor because David had five apples and gave two to Omar. The mental stress of that calculation may have wiped him out. He needs a nap and maybe a snack. Maybe he just needs to use the bathroom. His room is upstairs. He needs the bathroom in the basement, of course.

As I patiently await him to complete the four-word sentence he merely needs to copy, he laments over his unfair lot in life. He throws himself on the bed and wails to anyone in the house who will hear. He slaves everyday on his work. He works so hard but his father doesn’t know it. He wishes he had a nice dad. Other dads don’t make their sons do this. I remind him every kid in his class has the same assignment as him. Of course, that doesn’t matter. His classmates have nice parents.

Time for another nap. Not in his bed, though. This time, he needs to go downstairs and lay down on the couch. One of the Gaggle, done with their work, is watching TV. The Boy thinks he’s no one will notice him under a blanket. He is found and he runs back upstairs. Hopefully is hiding in his room… At his table… in front of his work with a pencil in his hand. We all have our dreams.

Cats and Dogs

There’s never a dull moment in our house. Me, wife, five kids, a cat, a dog… Oh, yeah. We got a dog.

I’m still not sure how this all came about. One of the children, I think, started talking about how nice it would be to have a dog. The Miracles of Christ don’t think we quite have enough going on in our house or in our lives. Between elementary school and high school, we have someone at home learning remotely five days a week. Wife is still working from home. Someone needs to go to school for a tutoring session at least two days a week. On top of that, there are the daily responsibilities of keeping the house clean. Now the children want to throw another pet into the mix.

We got a dog.

I reminded the children of the additional responsibilities that come with a dog, responsibilities that require getting out of bed before 11:00. No problem. They can do it. They will remember to feed the dog and walk the dog. These kids can’t remember to turn off a light when they leave a room but they’ll remember to take care of another animal.

It’s okay. They’ve got this. They’re going to take care of the dog. I voice my concerns, which are seriously considered by all before we start looking online for another member of our ever-growing family. We find a puppy at a local shelter. We sign up for our socially-distanced appointment. Before that, it’s off to the bank for a second mortgage and then the pet store where we buy up every dog supply the store has to offer. Wife and I are a little apprehensive now since there are no guarantees we will go home with a dog.

Who’s walking who?

We get the dog. Doggie hangs out in the office with wife where she whines and whimpers. Wife stops her business presentation to explain to the listeners we have yet another addition to the family and God forbid we don’t give her our undivided attention every waking moment.

Walking the dog is a treat. The dog fights us leaving the house and down the driveway and around the block. I’m trying to get Doggie to pee or poop. I don’t need to clean another mess in this house. Wife and I had a dog before. That dog took out three chew toys, five rugs, two mats, a bookcase, and the entire floor of one room. Some of these casualties are from chewing. Some are from peeing. Wife and I are especially vigilant about walking the dog.

We took Doggie to a check-up to make sure she’s healthy and alright. She has an ear infection. Fun times. The vet said we need to make sure her teeth are clean. The Oppressed has offered to share her toothbrush. I immediately vetoed that offer.

On the plus side, we have a fenced-in yard and our compost pile (We’re such good citizens of the Earth) is also fenced off. We have that to give Doggie a space to run around and expend some energy.

The family, especially the children are excited about this addition, especially one of the Gaggle, who has immediately adopted Doggie as yet another support animal. Speaking of support animals, Kitty is not pleased with this fellow four-legged creature. She is on alert every time she sees Doggie. Bristled fur, arched back, puffy tail. The whole bit. The truth is Puppy is just as scared of Kitty as Kitty is of Puppy. They’re both little timid animals who want protection from the other. What could possibly go wrong?

Winter Coats for Kids

All five of my children have super powers. Your children may have powers too and, for all I know, our children could share the same super powers.

I have only recently noticed the gifts bestowed upon the Miracles of Christ. These gifts, however, are not present at all hours of the day and night. It is only on certain days and during certain times of day.

One such power/gift is thick, viscous blood that will keep the Miracles of Christ warm during the winter. This is a curious gift possessed by The Boy and one or two of the Gaggle. The Boy will run around the neighborhood with friends sans jacket or any additional layer over his shirt. He doesn’t need it. It’s not cold. It’s winter and the thermometer is near freezing but that is an issue for mortals such as you and I. He doesn’t need it. Unfortunately, this power seems to escape him when he is sent outside to retrieve something he was supposed to put away or bring back into the house with him. At this point, he will need a coat or a sweatshirt, usually something that is tucked away in the back of his closet upstairs in his room. Way back in his closet, under something. It has to be this particular item of clothing or he won’t be able to get warm enough to do a task that would be done faster than the time it takes to put on a jacket or sweatshirt.

Mantle of mortals

And then we have The Gaggle. One of whom goes to work during the winter in pants and a tee shirt. That’s it. Nothing to cover his arms. His reasoning for this is that he is riding to work in a warm car (I run the car so the heat is on. I love my children) and from the car, he is going indoors where he works his shift. There is also the added burden of needing to remember a coat when he is finished work and he may forget it. Then he will be bothered by the fact that his jacket is at work while he is at home. I try to tell him that seeing the weather outside will make him grateful for having a jacket, therefore remembering said jacket. This mnemonic device is useless to him. He’ll just forget it anyway. I will remind him of a jacket when he climbs into the car and shivers off the cold after closing the door. He tells me he’s, “Okay.” I doubt that.

Superheroes need their rest…. Sometimes. The Boy will be up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning with his keister parked on the couch watching YouTube. He will be well into a marathon of Roblox or a walkthrough of a video game he is either still trying to master or doesn’t even play. No matter. These digital offerings no doubt provide secrets that will unlock the mysteries of the universe. He will need to wake up hours after this on a normal school day. This is where the mystery of his powers comes in. The ability to get up out of bed on his own eludes him. The ability to just get out of bed eludes him. I wake him up three, four times. Still nothing. He is weak. Feeble. It’s all he can do to get out of his warm bed.

Warm bed. This reminds me of The Oppressed. Another child who can run around with no jacket. Another one who is immune to the whims of fickle Mother Nature. Rain? I don’t need a coat. Cold? Bah! I don’t need to put a jacket on. Time to wake up? I’m cold. Let me stay in bed for five (more like 20) more minutes. If I could just warm up a little (she’s been in bed for eight or nine hours), I will be warm enough to face the day. I direct her attention to the array of warm clothes strewn about her room (We’re still learning how to use a dresser) and remind her that, if she gets dressed, she will be warm and ready for the day. Again, I’m talking out of my butt. What do I know? I know nothing about what a child needs, especially first thing in the morning. I’m making them meals but I don’t know what children need. I’m getting them ready for school but I don’t know what children need. It’s a miracle they’re alive, really.

Children need sleep. We all do. We need it to function everyday. Some need more sleep than others. If people don’t get sleep, they can’t do their job. Sleep helps you recharge your batteries and your super powers. If that’s the case, The Gaggle should be faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. The Gaggle have been gracing us with their presence around 11 each morning. Brave children. Strong children. Poor, mistreated children. Wife and I have reminded them that school is starting again and they will need to be out of bed before some people are ready to have lunch. Sometimes they do and when they do, they look like someone starting their day in a North Korean labor camp. Why must they be up so early? What is there that could possibly be so important they need to be up in the morning? They need sleep. They have to charge their superpowers. This is cruel.

Superpowers need to be charged. You never know when you will need them and when they could leave you like an angry god or goddess. Speed is one of these superpowers. I sometimes need to remind the Miracles of Christ to wash their hands after using the bathroom. They did. They just did it fast. I didn’t hear water running. Of course not. I don’t have super powers. They need to brush their teeth. They did. They just did it fast. I didn’t hear it because I don’t have super powers. The toothbrush is dry. It dried fast. The toothbrush has super powers. Can I see their teeth. No. They’re busy.

We’re all busy, just not as busy as our superheroes. The superheroes and their powers come in handy everyday. They need their super powers or they will be lost or worse without them. One of The Gaggle sits silently still in front of the PS4 for hours without moving. Ever hear of Medusa? She would turn you to stone. If you sit still like stone, she may think you’re already a statue and pass you by. There he sits, like a ninja, in case the evil goddess passes by and then he sees her and then… Well, I guess super powers only take you so far.

Wife and I are not privy to such powers. We are mere mortals in this landscape of titans and marvels. We get our needed rest, put on a coat when the temperature drops in the winter. Eat a meal when we are hungry. One child with a super power of boundless energy would rather run around the house when it’s time to sit down and eat. Time to go somewhere? He’s tired. Super powers are tricky things.