“Mom, can the dog I’m sitting for this weekend stay at our house so I won’t have to sleep at his owner’s place?” the text from my daughter, Lilly, read. “He’s a little Pomeranian mix named Ricky-Bobby,” she wrote, “Isn’t that cute?”
As a parent, it’s no fun to say “no” all the time. “Yes” is so much easier. I’m a firm believer that children thrive when they are in an environment that is well-defined by rules and led by a strong but nurturing authority figure. However, being a good mother is hard, and sometimes you just want to say “Yes.”
Yes, eat chicken nuggets for dinner again. Yes, draw on yourself with markers. Yes, wear bootie shorts to school. Yes, take a log of cookie dough in your lunchbox.
“Yes, tell the owner to bring her dog over to our house,” I heard myself say when Lilly got home. But she sensed my hesitation.
“What’s the matter, Mom?”
“Well, I don’t really want a yappy little dog in our house who will probably pee on everything, terrorize Moby, and drive me crazy. But I don’t like saying no,” I admitted.
“Mom, I swear, the lady told me that Ricky-Bobby is super friendly and well-behaved,” Lilly promised.
“That’s what they all say,” I grumpled. Scowling, I went out to prune the petunias.
My mind wandered back to a memory from NS Mayport, when our base neighbor asked us to walk and feed P’Nut, her Chihuahua mix, who wore a rhinestone studded collar, ate Goldfish crackers and slipped in a skillet-sized bed. “How hard could it be?” I thought.
Following specific instructions, I opened her garage door at exactly 5:30 pm and heard P’Nut’s surprisingly sharp barks. Entering the house, I scooped exactly one-quarter cup of kibble into P’Nut’s tiny food dish, informed P’Nut that it was “time to go outside,” and led her into the open garage. Making soothing noises, I approached P’Nut with the leash.
Just then, P’Nut’s minuscule black lips peeled back from her needle-like teeth, and she lunged for my fingers. I sprung backward with an embarrassing shriek. Chalking the incident up to a fluke, I cooed, “Does widdle P’Nut wanna go on a wiky-walk? You sweet little th…. AHHHHH!”
Relieved to find my fingers intact, I asked the neighbor for assistance. A Navy helicopter pilot, he stepped confidently toward P’Nut, declaring, “I’ll pick her up – she won’t hurt me.” In the chaos that ensued, P’Nut flashed her fangs and dashed around the garage, squealing like a pig. When the dust settled, the pilot was back on his porch, yelling, “She doesn’t like me!”
I gave up on walking the obstinate little diva, and lured her back in the house using Goldfish treats. Like a courtjester who’s been going to the gallows, I bowed before Her Excellency to offer the bribe. Thankfully, she accepted.
The memory of P’Nut was interrupted when Ricky-Bobby arrived with his owner, and our yellow lab, Moby, loped over to greet them. Before we had a chance to introduce ourselves, Ricky-Bobby emmitted ear-piercing barks in rapid-fire succession like some kind of semi-automatic sound weapon, and wriggled free from his owner. Jumping as high as his toothpick legs would allow, he attempted to sink his sharp little teeth into Moby who ran off, Ricky-Bobby nipping and yapping behind.
The chaos continued until Moby agreed to stay 20 feet away from Ricky-Bobby and his owner, who said, “Isn’t he sweet? He’ll settle down after a while.” She proceeded to promise that her mini-Kujo would “never bite” or pee in our house. But he might “mark a bit” and leave an “angry poop or two” that would be “firm and easy to pick up.”
Lilly glanced in my direction. One look at my widened eyes, and she knew what she had to do. “Ricky-Bobby is so adorable … but I think it would be best if he stays in his own house where he’s comfortable.”
That’s my girl. She’s learning early that saying no isn’t always easy, but it’s often the right thing to do.
Read more at themeatandpotatoesoflife.com, and in Lisa’s book, The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org