It’s been a rough week at our house. For one thing, the schedule is nuts. The end of the school year is approaching, with all its attendant final projects, concerts, field trips, and parties. It’s also baseball season; the Little League schedulers clearly delight in making it impossible to give your kid a decent meal at a reasonable time. Meanwhile, the daily grind continues; my children still expect to be fed three times a day and have clean underwear available on a moment’s notice.
To top it all off, we haven’t seen the sun in Central Pennsylvania in weeks, which causes my
borderline narcolepsy fondness for napping to blossom into full-on sleeping sickness. Good times.
As I was cleaning bedrooms and stacking papers and stuffing a sixth load of laundry into the machine yesterday, I couldn’t help but remember what Bo used to say about having kids.
Bo was the dog I grew up with. Our family was Mom, Dad, my two brothers, me, and the dog. We were utterly nuclear.
Bo said a lot of things; he was 20 pounds of old-soul wisdom. Of course, his thoughts had to be interpreted and vocalized by someone, and my dad was the man for the job. (If voicing your pet’s thoughts sounds ridiculous to you, just stop reading right now. For the rest of you – my people – I continue.)
One of Bo’s best-loved truisms always came out when my brothers and I were being especially trying. At the breakfast table, we’d be positioning cereal boxes strategically so we didn’t have to look at each other, bickering about who had more space, and complaining about what Mom was packing in our lunches. At a pause in the chaos, my dad would remark casually, “Bo can’t figure out why anybody with a nice dog would ever bother having kids.”
That dog had vision. He saw truth. And now that I’m parenting my own children, his wise words come to me when I need them. Like when I’m standing in front of the washing machine, emptying pockets and using all my upper body strength to disentangle balls of entire outfits into individual garments that can be penetrated by water and soap. (Incidentally, how do they do that? How can children who are incapable of putting a toothbrush and toothpaste together in a drawer manage to get so many articles of clothing so inextricably intertwined?)
Yesterday, I reached into the pocket of a fleece jacket and pulled out a handful of hard, sticky crud, much of which was still adhered to the inside of the pocket. Instantly I heard Bo’s voice (yes, actually my dad’s, but really, Bo’s) inside my head, asking plaintively, “Why would anyone with a nice dog ever bother having kids?”
It seemed an especially valid question at this moment, for one simple reason: dogs never put caramel corn in their jacket pockets.