On losing our “forever family” pet

“Mom, can Roxy sleep with me tonight?” the six-year-old implored as he climbed into bed. “Honey, Roxy is dead,” I gently reminded him. Tears welled in my eyes as I thought about the afternoon. The wag of the tail as she greeted our visitors. Her disappearance as we talked. The phone call from my sister relaying the message from a sweet man who had found her….and stayed with her so she wouldn’t be alone until we got there. But she was already gone…

…and I was alone. In fact, my whole family was around me, but I was alone as I called the boys together outside and told them she had died. I was alone as I gathered up her food dishes and leftover treats and emptied them into the trash can.

I was alone as I sat on my bed in the quiet of the night, eyes stinging from the tears. I was alone.

Single mom.

Three boys.

No little dog.

Those dark moments are when the world crashes and the weight feels unbearable. When sadness drapes your heart. When guilt condemns you for not having kept her inside, for not keeping a member of your family safe, for failing to be the protector. When you can’t yet see the light even though you know it’s there and will return.

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Super Tall Guy wanted to keep the collar “in our house.”

We have now made it past twenty-four hours. Friends have expressed condolences and texted kind thoughts. “How are the boys doing?” is a recurring question.

The Little Guy in his concrete stage of thinking spent the day telling everyone he met, “Our dog died. Rund over by a car. She didn’t look both ways.”

Super Tall Guy woke this morning and said, “I cried for Roxy while I slept last night. We need another little dog that looks like Roxy and we’ll name her Roxy until we get our big dog.” Emotions generally are not part of his vocabulary (despite recently watching “Inside Out”) but he misses the morning hugs.

Mr. Ornery lay on his bed again tonight and said, “I’m sad Roxy died. Will she come back alive? Will we see her again? Is she alive in Heaven?” and moved on to “When are we going to Kennywood again? I’m only going to ride that circle snow thing ride the whole day.”

Seems to me that they cope better than I. That they don’t know yet the finality of death. That they don’t worry about whether I could have prevented it. Gave Mr. Ornery a hug today and said, “I cried last night when Roxy died.” He paused. “I would cry if you died.” Fair enough.

Roxy & NateI cry. I cried tonight when I peeked into his bedroom as is my nightly habit and miss seeing the white furball cradling his head or sleeping along his back. I miss the dog more than I thought I would. Turns out, I must have actually loved the sometimes trouble but genuinely sweet little girl.

It is a shift in our household, yet we grieve and learn and grow. And I am learning how to handle my own grief as I walk my sons through their first pet loss (Lightning McQueen the beta fish did not have the same effect). Time heals, they say. I wait for time.

Beware the grief
It calls upon the demons
It beckons the darkness
It smothers the flame.

 

Beware the grief
It tarnishes the beauty
It robs the love
It spoils the soul.

 

Beware the grief
It heeds no boundaries
It follows no clock
It finds its own path.

 

Rise up, oh strong one.
Lean in to others
Seek comfort
Accept the balm.

 

Rise up, oh strong one,
Rest the soul
Cry the tears
Let healing begin.

 

Rise up, oh strong one,
The heaviness shifts
The dark shall disperse
The light shall shine.

 

Hold on to joy.
Hold on to memories
And keep the gift alive.

 

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Do not read this post….

….If you’re looking for parenting advice. Because if you’re anything like me – trying hard to be a good parent – making it sometimes and beating yourself up more than you should, you’re probably getting pretty exhausted.

The thing is, it feels like every time I’m on the internet – email, Facebook, Twitter – there’s another way to “be a great parent”….another advice column….another thing I didn’t do right with Super Tall Guy. Another opinion on co-sleeping, potty training, kid sports, handling emotions, time outs, time aways, time together, quality time, quantity time, quiet time (my favorite!)

And my problem? I actually don’t have time to read all this advice. And I don’t have the emotional energy most days to adequately decide that most of it doesn’t actually apply to my kids and therefore I don’t need to worry about it.

Now – there was that one post I read (wish I could remember it) that said that this current generation of parents is really struggling with parenting and reflecting on parenting and looking for advice. It’s one bit of a post that I actually agree with.  I spend a whole lot of time wondering about my wondering about my parenting!

But for the most part, I wonder….

  • Where the scissors are because we keep putting them up so the boys don’t get them….and then they disappear anyway.
  • Who used the silver Sharpie on the dining room table (but does it really matter “who” did it? Or the fact that it was a Sharpie?!?)
  • If the spiraling football is going to hit the fish tank and knock Lightning McQueen to the floor this time or not (because when else will this beta fish belly up? Or should I just clean the tank again?)
  • If that’s a small turd on the living room floor that I almost stepped on on the way up to bed, or? Nah, just a small rubber brown Ewok.  That, however, on the side of the bathroom wall really is what it looks like it is….
  • If Super Tall Guy will ever forgive me for tossing his Flash Gordon superhero toy in the trash can when he was two even after I told him 5 times that I would if he kept throwing it at the mall play area….and he did keep throwing it? Why did he just bring this up again?
  • If the washing machine can handle 5 pairs of muddy kid sneakers or was that too much? (Oh wait, seems I forget the left shoe for The Little Guy….oh well, it’ll clean off eventually!)
  • Why tremendously full Roxy glassespull-ups explode into a million tiny round gel pellets when you strip off pajamas in the morning….with no hope of really being able to clean them all up?
  • If the life expectancy of a dog is inversely correlated with the number of boys under the age of 6 in one’s household?

It’s probably better for my sanity to ponder this kind of stuff than to wonder if I will really mess these boys up for life, or if there is enough plasticity left in their brains to make it through my trial and error parenting stage? So if you were looking for some advice, I certainly hope you didn’t read all the way through. Maybe next week. Maybe next week.

 

 

 

When you are Three Feet Tall….

The Little Guy went sliding across the floor this afternoon, landing face-first on the Jack and the Neverland Pirates “telescope” in his hands. He cried. The bruise formed.

“Aw,” I said. “Mommy just mopped the floor there because something spilled and you slipped on the wet floor.”  For the rest of the evening, he repeated in various renditions the woes of running across a wet floor and how it would be better to walk.

It made me think about Life from Three Feet. There is so much to learn….and most of it from experience.  “Wet floor” = slippery = fall on face! And the world is so very different from the perspective of being three feet tall….

When you are Three Feet Tall:

  • Big dogs are actually very scary monsters. Their happily wagging tail is aimed directly for your eyes and yet everyone keeps telling you, “he’s really friendly – you don’t have to be scared of him!” Try being hit in the face with that lashing rope and see what you think about his “friendliness”!
  • A simple task of “Go wash your hands” becomes an acrobatic feat as you balance atop a stool and lunge your belly onto the sink to teeter precariously while somehow turning a knob clockwise, twisting your torso to reach the soap, then lather and rinse. Boom! Landing on your feet again with pride….your joy is dashed when out rings, “Turn off the water!” Oh, darn.
  • Every single little bitty toy you want to play with has been placed high on top of the mantle with those tall parental creatures thinking that “out of sight” is “out of mind.” Not so!.  Look, I may be short….but the brain still works, buddy!
  • Brothers barreling through the room at full speed are almost guaranteed to knock you off your feet – especially the 85-pound one who barely seems to have any control of his flailing arms (or maybe he does….maybe he just pretends that “was an accident”….hmmmm….something to think about…..).
  • People say things like, “Oh look, you’re tall enough to ride the roller coaster this 130525-Idlewild-Amusement-Park-45-1024x681year!” They never once consider whether or not you might actually want to ride the roller coaster….and since you have no clue what that word means, you decide to go along with the apparent giddy waiting in line….climbing aboard….SHEER TERROR!!!
  • Of course, the very next weekend, they might deem you “too little” to join them in roller skating…or bowling….or Laser Tag. Come on – sometimes I’m “too big” to still be wetting my pants and then “too little” to hang with the cool dudes?!?
  • You practically run a 10K every time the family decides to go for a “short walk.” Anyone ever think about the fact that these legs are half the size of yours….thus they only move half the distance?  I’m doing 5 or 6 steps for every one of yours – think that might be why I’m so far behind you?

Some great things about being Three Feet Tall though:

  • You can still cuddle up in laps to read books at bedtime.
  • People still carry you around when you lift your hands halfway through a “short walk.”
  • Bending over to pick something up off the floor is hardly any work.
  • People tend to think you’re just really cute…like all the time! And this can go a long way. A Long, Loooong Way!

It helps me to think about Life from Three Feet a little. To be a little more patient with the short legs, the earnest attempt to complete tasks while living in the world of giants, and the view of big things coming at you fast. Sometimes it helps to slow down a bit and view the world from the kids’ point of view….rather than my own.

 

We adopted a girl!

Her name is Roxy.

She is fourteen pounds.

A Bichon-Terrier mix who is five years old, little and very sweet.

(Gosh….that didn’t take too long in between my weekly posts….)

Super Tall Guy picked out a pink collar at the shelter,“since she’s a girl.” I was impressed by his thoughtfulness, and she does actually look cuter with a splash of color.

First impressions:

Super Tall Guy – very happy to the point of not really knowing what to do (and misbehaving at summer camp – which he attributes to being excited about getting a dog to which I say “baloney. You better behave tomorrow” – cuz that’s a helpful threat.) “I’m so excited we have a Roxy day one2dog! Finally! And in a couple years we can get a bigger dog, like a black lab, and then we’ll have two dogs!” “I’ll clean up the poop in the morning and The Flipper gets to do the afternoon one!”

The Flipper – thrilled and trying to figure out how to “share” this new joy as both of the older boys would like to be “the first” at everything – feeding her, walking her, cuddling up with her to read books.  “Can’t believe we finally got a dog. I love my dog,” as he dances around the room.

Mr. Ornery – impartial and doesn’t really care to be the first to do anything. But since this seems to be the best thing since chocolate milk was introduced into the house, he’s attempting to appear interested. – “Look, she knows me already, she licked my hand”

Mr. Trouble (with a capital T) – senses possible competition for the “Capital T” title and is determined to maintain his distinguished honor. Thus, within a hour, he has kicked over the water dish, opened and closed the crate door incessantly, tried to feed her people food, and opened the doors to rooms we don’t want the dog in.  It’s only the beginning…it’s only the beginning. Kathy already called the dog by Mr. Trouble’s name – a sure sign that this is going to be an interesting experience.

The Little Guy – semi-terrified and semi-fascinated. It’s an approach-withdrawal dance every single encounter. “Can I pet her?”-“Ah, Mommy pick me up!!!”  The key is that Roxy is half his body weight, so I’m hoping he’ll get comfortable with her soon, compared to the black lab at a friend’s house this weekend that left The Little Guy quaking and frozen in place any time the lab walked within 5 feet of him!

First reactions from friends:

“Are you nuts?!?”

“Do you need more chaos?!?”

“Aw….she’s cute.” (that’s if I text them a photo)

“Man, you guys just have ‘adoptive’ hearts, don’t you? If it needs love and a home, you’ll take ’em.”

“Awww!! Precious!!” (also to a photo)

“Congratulations”

“Are you serious?!?”

“Don’t forget, dogs get up just as early as kids to go out to pee!! LOL!” (to which I replied, “well, that’s just going to be the sister’s job then!” and I’m sure early-bird Super Tall Guy will be awake at 5:30 tomorrow to check on Roxy’s need to go out!)

Yep – that about sums up the responses from the first people who have heard. I’m sure it’s going to be a repetition of the above as the news spreads.

As if the kids don’t provide me with enough “writing material”….

Why we absolutely Do NOT need a dog for any reason…..maybe….

There’s been a lot of talk in this neck of the woods lately about getting a little dog. Super Tall Guy has been begging for one since the moment he could talk. I have him generally pacified with the excuse of needing to move first so that we’ll have a nice big yard for the dog to run (and theoretically not have to do daily excrement removal!). He did inform me just the other day, though, that the excuse is wearing a bit thin….and “if we don’t move this year, we must get a dog before my next birthday.”  I’m still not quite giving in.

I thought about it briefly last monthly….briefly enough to begin a conversation with the other head-of-household.  But then I let it drop….and now it surfaces again as the next boy approaches the tender age of 8 – apparently the age to consider getting a dog.

But….let me just say this (you know, in a blog, rather than in conversation….) – here are ALL the reasons why we don’t need a dog, actually:

Dogs bite – particularly little puppies. They are always nipping on something…your shoes, your TV remotes, your body. And really, we already have a biter in the house. His name is Mr. Trouble. Come to think of it – he’s never bitten me (wise young man), but he so enjoys shocking his mother with a good nip or causing a ruckus by attacking the back or arm of an unsuspecting brother/cousin. So why add another random pain inducer?

Dogs are constantly underfoot and you are always tripping over them. We have that already – The Little Guy. You turn around and boom – there he is! You trip over him.  You walk into the kitchen and he circles in front of you – boom! Trip over him. Anywhere you turn. Anywhere you walk. It’s uncanny. There is The Little Guy … underfoot! Boom. Trip.  (“uncanny?” …more like “annoying” is what it is!!)

Dogs tend to “piddle” in the house and usually in a most unwelcome place. We already have that – “Mommy, ‘someone’ peed on the floor again!!” – in the toy room, in a bed room, on the hardwood floor….a nice puddle of yellow. Seems Mr. Trouble went through a stage of marking his territory which (knock-on-wood) has subsided, but The Little Guy is still having enough “accidents” in his toileting “stage” that I’m not so eager to bring another creature lacking bowel and bladder control into the house!

Dogs bark a lot and you can’t actually make them be quiet if they don’t want to. And we really already have a whiny, crying little being – The Little Guy. He gets into fits of whine and cry that no amount of threat, cuddles, hugs or admonitions is going to snap him out of it. He’s particularly good about starting into a fit around 5:40 in the morning….just when you need that last bit of sleep cycle to get the body rested. Why would we want another incessant noise-maker???

Dogs shed, and tear up newspapers, and scratch up furniture, and pull things off counters, and carry shoes around the house and leave them in miscellaneous places, and splash water all over the floor while drinking, and…. And, really, the five creatures who ambulate on two feet pretty much do the exact same things – shed scratched tableclothes wherever they happen to be standing, tear up newspapers or books, scratch the dining room table with the tines of forks (despite repeated admonitions), pull candies and treats off the counters, carry one shoe off and leave it wherever they last changed their focus of attention, and can’t possibly direct every drop of water from a cup into their mouth, thus splattering the floor… And this is all in a 20-minute period – now just keep repeating that throughout the day!

in the office

Dogs wander into places you don’t want them to go unless you’ve managed to train them to be in the crate or a room for the day. Children also seem to have the habit of wandering into rooms that you’ve expressively forbidden them numerous times. And when caught red-handed, they hide under your office room chair and pretend they’re not there and that that’s obviously not their mess on your desk!

Okay… in an attempt to be fair and reasonable, there are a couple reasons why we do need a dog…

They clean up the house – at least of anything edible.  I have, in fact, vowed to never feed the boys spaghetti again until we have a dog who will clean the floor. I have to date broken that vow numerous times….but I still say it every time I attempt to get the sticky stringy noodles to stop clinging to the broom bristles and move into the dustpan.

They are generally protective and since we’ve already been robbed….it stands to reason that it might be nice to have a loud boisterous deterrent guarding the door and the little ones inside.

They are adorable and cuddly …. For just a wee bit of time ….just like the cute and cuddly newborns ….who suddenly grew up to be loud and boisterous boys craving independence and “power.”

They are a “man’s best friend” and since we’re in the process of raising a rambunctious handful of men, it might be nice for them to have a friend….and a few lessons in “responsibility” wouldn’t hurt.

We’ll let you know what he/she looks like…. And, of course, we sure would love your advice for “family-friendly”…. “semi-shed-free” …. “lovable, adorable” dogs in the comments below.

….if you wouldn’t mind…

….just sayin’……

(thanks)