Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dog park politics? But I don't speak dog

I've never had anyone reject an apology before. Oh, I've had people accept apologies in pretty non-graceful ways, and I've had folks tell me that yes, I certainly should be apologizing to them. But I've never had anyone simply say nothing and walk away.

I have to say I think that's rather bad form. Because it all started with a dog. My dog, of course, my mutly misbehaving dog.

I'd decided to be brave and take him to the local dog park by myself. Well, okay, I was with my daughter, but since she is texting constantly, I consider it just like being alone.

Usually I go with my brother, who is a dog expert. I feel braver, because he can help me handle more dog issues. But he was off on business and the dog needed exercise, so off we went.

For awhile, all was fine. The people were really nice. But then it got pretty crowded. My dog got really excited. He started chasing and barking at a smaller dog. I ran over to get him and pull him away. As I approached, the owner looked up at me. "Really?" he said nastily, as my dog barked. "Really?"

I stopped. "I'm so, so sorry," I said. His dog was a little springer spaniel, probably very expensive. Mine was the finest the local shelter had to offer. "I'm just teaching him manners," I said. "I'm so sorry," I repeated lamely.

But the owner glared at me, turned and led his dog away. I just stood there, feeling guilty - and feeling like he thought his dog was better than mine. That's stupid, I told myself. But I wasn't so sure.

Later, I saw his dog mixing it up with a few other pooches, but it didn't make me feel any better. In fact, we left soon afterward. I kept reminding myself these are dogs, not children, and dogs do what dogs do, but I still haven't gone back.

I know there's office politics, and I know there's even mom politics. I avoid them when I can, handle them when I have to.

But I didn't know there were dog park politics. That makes me extra uncomfortable. Because I don't speak dog.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Welcome to the School Parking Place Race!

If we leave on time, we can make it. If we get to the corner, and the light is green, we can make it. If the cars in front of us go straight, and not right, we can make it.

But if we get behind the slow-moving bus, we're doomed. Put on your shoes and start walking.

Welcome to the Daily School Parking Place Race at my elementary, courtesy of the new parking lot arrangement.

I don't even know what the new arrangement is, to tell you the truth. All I know is whatever was done, it eliminated precious parental parking places in the morning rush hour.If you don't get one, you have to park across the street and far away. Far, far way. Relatively speaking.

I know what you're thinking: Hoof it, lazybutt. Get some exercise. Breathe that morning air. Okay, okay, first of all, well, I really don't want to. Let's just get that out there. Second of all, I'm in my work clothes. And while I am reaching that old and frail age, (at least according to my children) I'm trying to avoid wearing those round-toe shoes with crepe heels. At least most days.

And so every morning, the great race begins. I have it timed just about right now. Because we can get a place. We only need it for a minute, I swear. Then you can have it. You know, if you're running late. In case you got stuck behind that bus.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Relaxation for mom? Are you kidding?

"Relaaaaax," croons the voice on my yoga DVD. "Relaaaax"

I stretch out in savasana, or corpse pose, flat on my back. I take a deep breath and let it out. Yes, I need to relax.

"MOM," shouts my son from the office room next door. "WHAT'S MARIO'S LAST NAME? IS IT MEATBALL? HOW DO YOU SPELL MEATBALL??"

I am not answering. I am relaxing - just like the lady on the DVD is recommending. I open one eye. The lady on the DVD is apparently in Hawaii. I am in our family room, and I can't help but notice that the rug I'm lying on could use a good shampooing. I close my eye again.

"Breathe," says the DVD lady. "Become one with your breath."

There is a voice in my ear. It sounds suspiciously like my daughter's. "Mom!" it hisses. "Picture day is on Friday. Did you know that picture day is on Friday? Because it is. I need to wear something nice."

I don't answer. Because I am one with my breath.

Suddenly, with a rush, all that breath is knocked out of me. Our new dog, all 50 pounds of him, has bounded down the stairs and landed on my chest.

I gasp for air. The children giggle. The dog drops his new toy, a soggy raccoon we have fondly named "Dead Rigby," on my stomach.

I sit up. I sense the DVD lady's disapproval. But I think I've had all the relaxation I can stand for one night.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Even a daddy's girl has to let go sometime"

I was freezing cold and soaking wet.

The parking lot had been full that morning, so my son and I had hoofed it from blocks away to the elementary school. I'd given up my side of the umbrella, so the icy rivulets running down my back were an unpleasant reminder that fall had arrived quite early this year.

But when I turned the corner of the hallway, I almost forgot my discomfort. The scene in front of me broke my heart.

There was a dad, on his knees, with his first-grade daughter in his arms. Today was only the third day of school, and she was apparently having a little separation anxiety.

Daddy, for his part, looked bewildered and miserable. He was dressed for work, in khakis and a nice sweater, with his cell phone on his belt. The first school bell had already rung, and the Pledge of Allegiance had already been recited over the loudspeaker. I'm sure he was late for work; I know I was.

But his daughter was sobbing; she was clinging and didn't want to let go. I could tell he didn't want to, either.

I knew the teacher - she was my son's teacher two years ago and she's wonderful. "Are you a daddy's girl?" she said. "I'm a daddy's girl, too. But even a daddy's girl has to let go sometime."

It will get easier, Dad, I promise. For your daughter, at least. But for you ... I think it might take a little more time. : )

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Making friends awkward for grown-ups

It's the first day of school, and there's a meet-and-greet for the new elementary school principal.

I'm standing against the wall, sipping my coffee, feeling incredibly awkward. I'm reminded again how hard it is to make friends when you're a grown-up. I've lived in this community for about four years now and I love it. But standing here, I still feel like an outsider.

Oh, everyone is extremely nice, of course. They always have been. It's just that it seems everyone has lived here forever. Their friendships go way back.

Today, everyone is in their own group. Moms with little kids. Dad coaches. Pregnant moms. Moms who craft together, work together.

There's doesn't seem to be a group for solitary writer moms, or moms who work out of town.

I finish my coffee and contemplate leaving. But I did want to meet the principal. And there were donuts from Tim Horton.

Then I catch the eye of a little girl with glasses, eating raisins from a box. She gives me such a big smile I have to smile back.

And I realize she has the right idea.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Taking one long, last breath of summer

I was walking the dog past the subdivision clubhouse this morning when I noticed the deck chairs were gone. The pool had been drained and covered by a tarp.

I felt a sudden, immediate stab of sadness. I shouldn't have, of course. It's September. Summer is over. But ... September? How did that happen? How did summer slip away so fast?

I know, I know, it's cliche. It's just that at the beginning of spring, you feel like you have so much time. Winter has just ended, and summer is unfolding in front of you like a fresh, green carpet of possibility.

It's so nice to move so slow.

But now the respite is over. The Halloween stuff is out. Boots are on sale. I already feel rushed, like I'm behind in planning something - and I'm not even sure what.

I know I should use this long weekend to plan, to get ahead, to make sure I'm ready for school next week, but I don't think I will. I think I might take one last, long breath of summer.