Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Doggy devotion? That's just kid stuff, right?

I am a cat person. I've always loved cats. They're quiet, low-maintenance and they tend to mind their own business. I can appreciate that.

So I wasn't quite sure how I'd feel about having a dog in the house. I mean, dogs are loud and excitable, right? They chew things, jump around and seem to be a lot of work.

But my daughter, now in middle school, has been begging for a dog since second grade, and my son wanted one, too. We finally decided this was the summer of the dog.

Enter Copper, the "best dog ever," courtesy of our local humane society. He's a three-year-old lab mix who obviously used to be someone's pet. He knows how to sit and shake hands. (He also likes to drink out of the toilet and beg for food).

Copper is the kids' dog. I barely notice him. I mean, sure, he flops over for tummy rubs, eases his bulk into my lap, wakes me up in the morning with a lick on the ear and lies on my feet while I read at night.

But really, he's for the kids. I barely notice him.

Now, yes, I have been getting up a half hour earlier to walk him, but I figured that would be good for both of us. My brother Michael, my own personal dog whisperer, has been teaching me to stay calm and assertive with the leash.

"If you want to have a better dog," says author Jon Katz, "You need to be a better person."

I do believe that. Not that I really care, of course. Because Copper is for the kids. I barely notice him.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

No nagging from mom? What will happen?

I left home on Friday for a long weekend, spending some time with a friend on a writing retreat.

I wanted to go, I really did. But I left with a bit of trepidation. I'm not good at leaving home. I miss my family, even for a weekend, and besides, you never know what dad will allow when mom's not around.

Coke for breakfast? Dirty kids all day? No teeth brushing before bed? What will happen when mom isn't around to nag all the time?

A lot, apparently. But ... not in the way I thought. In fact, when I came home, the kids were clean and happy, the grocery shopping was done, the laundry was folded, and pictures that had been propped up in the hall were now hanging properly - and some new ones had been added too.

And for the piece de resistance, my shower - the bane of my cleaning existence - had somehow been scraped free of its buildup of grody rust and lime. My husband had found a cleaner (CLR - Calcium, Lime and Rust remover) and scrubbed it clean as a little welcome-back present for me.

Maybe I should leave more often.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Oh, no. It's family game night - rescue me

You know those ads you see for family game night, where the contented family is gathered around the table, playing some board game? Think back. Is the mom smiling? No, she's not. At least not in my house.

Oh, I like the togetherness. I'm just not a big fan of board games.

And that's too bad, because we have no shortage. There's Sorry, Monopoly, Operation, even Apples to Apples. We can Spill the Beans, Break the Ice, Connect Four and even sink each other's battleships. We can get into Trouble, too, although I will say the Pop-O-Matic makes it somewhat tolerable.

Family game night. Rescue me.

But I love my family. And my family loves board games. And so I play. Oh, I try to duck out - hiding in the bedroom, feigning sleep, even staying in the bathroom for oddly long amounts of time - but they wait for me. Because family game night just doesn't work without mom, does it?

My husband doesn't understand it. Growing up, his family - his extremely competitive family - loved board games. They played them constantly. I think my brother and I played Ker-Plunk once or twice and called it a day.

I mentioned off-handedly to my husband that there used to be this game I remembered called Masterpiece - it was about art forgery - that I thought wasn't so bad. God love him, he found it on eBay and bought it, hoping he would change my game-hating ways.

I still haven't played it. But I know I'll have to. Soon.

Uh-oh ... I think I hear the Pop-O-Matic. Time to go. It's family game night. Rescue me.