Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Where is the Dog?

We work hard to instill responsibility in our children.  At each birthday, they are assigned a new chore or two and they work hard during that year to master it.  At first, it is painful - My towels are never folded neatly and the dog's food is generally strewn all over the floor.  But after awhile, they get the hang of it and my life is just a little bit easier.  This is how dog walking has been.

At first, the dog was escaping out of his collar and running away.  My son couldn't pick up the poop. The leash was always lost.  We overcame each obstacle, problem solving with him until it became easy.  I considered this a checkmark in the win column.  At least until an incident this week.

"Mommy!  I need a towel!" my six year old said as he stormed through the front door without the dog he had taken on a walk five minutes before.

"Honey, where's the dog?"  I asked, assuming that he had slipped his collar off to cavort through the neighborhood.

His face reddened a bit.  "I just need a towel, okay?"

"Wait one second," I said as I looked him in the eyes.  "Let's start at the beginning.  Where is the dog and why do you need a towel?"

"Well," he began, forming his words carefully.  "So, Burton was peeing, right?  So it made me have to pee.  So I just started peeing too.  Then Burton walked in front of me and pee got all over him!  That's why I need a towel."

I stifled my giggles and tried to focus on the issue at hand.  "Okay...So where is Burton?"

"Oh!  I just gave him to a neighbor to hold.  But don't worry, I know him!"

I peered out the window and saw a man (someone I've never met!) holding our dog and waiting patiently for my son's return.

My brain went into hyperdrive.  Which to handle first?  Peeing in public?  Stranger danger?  Washing the pee off of my poor, unsuspecting dog?  Fall into a fit of giggles at the ridiculousness of the situation?  I scooped up my daughter and we headed out to assess the damage.

"I'm so sorry, sir!"  I said to the man as I approached.

"Oh I don't mind!  I was just walking by and he put me to work!"

I grabbed the leash of my wet puggle and we headed inside for a good scrubbing.  As I washed him off, my son and I talked about all the issues above.  We talked about why he shouldn't have his privates out for the whole neighborhood to see.  We discussed the neighbor and why he should be careful about who he trusts.  And then I told him it was alright; We will figure these things out together.
Oh, and when my husband got home, we hid in the bathroom giggling our heads off so that we could finally get it out of our systems!

Some might say that this shows he isn't ready for this kind of responsibility but I beg to differ. Isn't it better to mess up within the safe confines of a family that loves you?  Isn't it better to be loved through your mistakes and guided along a better path?  It helps me to remember that we all need practice doing new things.  We all make bad/silly/dumb (fill in the blank) choices sometimes.  But if we can support each other, laugh a little at our mistakes and move forward knowing more than we did before, I call that a success.

What responsibilities are your children ready for?  How can you be supportive when they don't do it "right"?

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