Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Puppy Trap

One moment of weakness and now I have a dog for twelve to fifteen years. I forgot how much work puppies are. We already have one dog, a Tibetan spaniel named Buster Brown. He is cute and basically a good dog but he caused quite a bit of damage to our house, namely to the rugs, floor and furniture. He runs away whenever he can and barks at us if we dare put him in his crate. At five years old, he has mellowed out and uses stealth tactics to accumulate privileges like sleeping in the kids’ beds and getting up on the furniture.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me a photo of her adorable new puppy. I commented on the cuteness. She sent me a text saying the breeder had a brother still left in the litter. I fell into the puppy trap and the next day we had a puppy. Not planned, not thought through, and honestly not a good idea. Puppies are naughty but get away with a lot because they are so irresistible. Our puppy Chewbacca (Chewie) is energetic, funny and brings immense joy. But Chewie is a destroying machine, like none I’ve come across.

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He needs to be cleaned coming out of his soiled crate. He wants to play wildly. He chews up the puppy pad he is supposed to go to the bathroom on. He devours his little breakfast and races to Buster Brown’s bowl to steal his. He chews our rugs, table legs, shoes and socks. Every time I turn around the puppy is licking the wall. He barks at us. He runs at full speed and pounces on Buster over and over.

It’s puppy mayhem, puppy pandemonium and puppy destruction of property. My kids feel the puppy has a right to be wild. My little girl Natalie assures me, “Puppies don’t have too many rights because they are not humans. But they have the right to be wild. That’s what my teacher said.” I look at her. “Your teacher did not say that. No teacher would ever say that puppies have the right to be wild.”

Ethan walks over. “Mom have you ever heard of animal rights groups? They are just kind of everywhere. I think you might want to read up…” Christian nods like he has a point.

I have no response for this.

My daughter Olivia comes in the kitchen and announces, “people start to resemble their dogs over time. It’s a fact. I saw it on the internet.” I say, “Thank goodness Chewie is so cute, it should be against the law.” She rolls her eyes at me. “How could being cute break any laws? Really mom? I’m just saying we should get him groomed a lot, just in case. Look at this picture of a Lhasa Apso with long hair. I can’t look like this! Please get on this.” I find myself nodding. The Lhasa Apso with hair all the way to the ground and a pony tail on its head is not a look anyone in my family could embrace.

I’m cleaning up yet another accident and I say to my son Ethan, “See what happens when you have a momentary lapse in judgment and give into temptation. Don’t do it.” He looks at me and says, “Wait a minute! Let me see if I have this straight. You’re saying if I can’t resist doing something, I’m going to end up with the cutest puppy ever? Good talk mom…”

I say, “That’s not what I meant” but somehow I can’t explain what I really meant. Do I deeply regret getting this puppy? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.

ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

I never wanted a dog in a thought-out kind of way. No one has ever called a dog ‘mom’s best friend’.  A mom’s best friend may be a number of things depending on the mom. The best friend could be another mom, her husband, her sister, her child or a wine bottle after a hard day. It’s never a puppy. Because puppies wreck things with exuberance and rarely have remorse for chewing my shoes or sensing which rug is my favorite, only to ruin it. My daughter Natalie told me to pee on my favorite things and then clean them up with ‘puppy no’ spray. I would be marking my territory and the puppy would go somewhere else. She was sure she had seen that tip in an on-line training manual.

So for now, I am riding solo on the training committee. I will tell Chewie to stop being so wild. I will potty train him without using any human urine to mark territories. I will not give him the haircut I want so we look alike. He can have his own unique look. I will hold him and play with him when no one is home so no one thinks I’m soft on the puppy.

As the holidays approach, do something crazy. Get a puppy. You’ll regret it almost as much as you’ll be glad you did it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Disney Training For the DMV

Written by Eileen Wacker

Yesterday I took my son to get his driving permit at the DMV. There was no school for him due to a teacher development day. The other three still had school so I was up by 6:00 to make breakfast and drive them. My kids are never all in school for five days in a given week. Days off for kids = work for a tired mom as my day becomes filled with randomness. Schedules are security blankets for moms.

ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

I wanted to get to the DMV as it opened. Going to the DMV is a mom chore. I don’t want to go. It’s the opposite of a happy place. It’s filled with scowling people who torment moms who like things fast, efficient, and friendly. As a mom, I prefer people who smile big and welcome me with extra chirpy voices. That’s why I love Disney. Disney workers are my definition of cheerful. Although I admit I yelled at my kids in the happiest place on the planet. They were acting horrible—fighting and begging to buy big souvenirs that I had to lug around the entire park. And all the giant items ended up lost or thrown away within a week.

If I can become impatient in Disneyland, I knew the DMV posed a serious challenge to keep any good mood going.

Watching my teenage son put on his socks was painful. And tying his sneakers in slow motion was worse. I had to leave the room. As we were driving, my son confessed that he has not studied the manual. He insisted since he listened in the Drivers Ed class, he should be fine. “It’s all common sense anyway. That’s what Colin told me,” he said confidently. I said, “This is an example of being lulled into the dummie circle.” The dummie circle is when kids reinforce each other’s teenage notions, which we adults can plainly see are not going to work out for them.

When we arrived, we were told that one of our forms is a copy and not accepted. I showed how we have everything the website indicated we needed and brought his new passport as back up. I pointed to the sign on the wall that lists the accepted ID forms. The DMV employee said the sign was old and I needed another form. She did not accept his passport as proof of identity because he is not eighteen. I tried to use humor so she’d like me and I wouldn’t have to go all the way home for an additional form. I said, “We just got this passport and you are all the same government, just different departments. How can the passport not be a form of ID? Passports are the ultimate form of ID.” I didn’t make a new friend. I think the DMV training program includes instructions on how to transition from scowling to displaying apathy and back.

We went home to retrieve the form and headed back. The same employee played her role as a mom tormentor, inspecting every form again and called her supervisor over to inspect them as well. After four hours of waiting in four different lines, my son failed the test. I snapped at him, “Now I have to come back here. I don’t have time for this. If you don’t do well in school, this might be where you end up!” As the words flew out, I regretted them. They sounded snobby. He looked at me, “Mom, I’m just saying, there are some positive things about working here. There doesn’t appear to be a dress code. I hate dress codes. And the people don’t seem to work too hard.” I kept my mouth shut, liking the person he is.

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He wasn’t really upset about not passing, either. He said, “I just need to get five more right next time. Hey, can Colin come over and shoot some hoops?” Since Colin’s mom was at work this means I’m picking up and dropping off and making or buying lunch. I said yes because that’s how we’re wired as moms. Saying no and having him sit on his Xbox all day is definitely a worse option. As we got out of the car, he said with a smile, “Thanks mom. That was fun hanging out with you.” And there it was; he gave me my Disney moment.

This morning, I woke up to randomly strewn eyelashes all over my pillow. I pulled out the eyelashes that I paid to put on. I didn’t deliberately do it and I only pulled them off of one eye. It’s how I know the stress is getting big. My little girl came into my room and said, “Mom, I think I should stay home today and play with the puppy. I need to train him. You can have a day off from taking care of Chewie. Wait, what happened to your eyes? Your face doesn’t match.”

I hugged her and said, “Today you go to school. Next Wednesday is Veteran’s Day and there is no school. Another four day week. I’m sure we’ll think of some fun stuff to do. Meanwhile give me five minutes to make my face match.” Then, I started the day pulling the rest of the eyelashes out. This is why I need a little more Disney in my days.