Thursday, March 20, 2014

SLICE #20- More parenting from afar. A dog?!!!???

Wednesday morning.

We are in the middle of state testing. I have proctored my assigned math session and then a makeup test and now I have about five minutes to throw down my sandwich before I head outside for lunch duty.

I check my phone and discover four messages from my son.

I immediately assume the worst. I just talked to him the night before. And he usually doesn't want to talk to me all that often. I wonder if there has been an accident or an arrest.

I glance at the clock and call him back.

"Do you have a minute?"

Uh-oh. That's not usually good question. Has he failed a test? Dropped out of school? Been in an accident?

"Sure. What's going on?"

"Well, um, K (Son #2, who is visiting Son #1 for his spring vacation) was outside and he saw this lady playing with her dog and he asked if he could pet it and um…"

Again my mind immediately jumps to worse case scenario. What could have happened with a dog? A dog bite? Son #2 was bitten by a dog? 

"And um, the lady said she didn't want it and K could have it and he told her he didn't want it, but she was just going to let it run loose and so we brought it inside, so it would be safe, and it's here now."

"A dog? A dog is at your apartment? What kind of dog?"

"A pit bull and boxer mix. It's a girl. Her name is Sheba."

Anyone who knows me at all knows I am a total dog lover. I have two, a food-crazed black lab and my mom's white malti-poo, who seems to be a permanent house guest.

"You need to get rid of it Zay. You can't have a pet in the apartment without paying a deposit. I can't pay a deposit and you don't have any money."

"I don't want to get rid of it. She's been here for two days. I thought you liked dogs."

"I do like dogs. I like dogs a lot. But you can't have one in the apartment."

"Lots of people have them in the apartment. I see them all the time."

"But they have probably paid the deposit. And I can't do that. And you don't have a job."

"I thought you would think it was a good thing. We were trying to help this dog so she didn't get run over. And you like dogs."

"I do like dogs, sweetie. But you can't have one in your apartment. You need to give it back or take it to the pound." 

"But I want to keep her."

"You have to walk dogs, and feed them, and take them to the vet. And you don't have a yard. So you have to take it out. A lot."

"I'll do that. It will teach me responsibility."

"You can't have a dog in your apartment."

"But I want to keep her…"

I look up at the clock and realize I am five minutes late to recess duty. "Sweetie, I have to go. You can't have a dog until you can pay for it. Period. I love you."

"I want to keep her. And I'm not a Christian."

What? How did not having a dog connect to not being a Christian????

"You are a Christian. You made that decision ten years ago and once you've made it, there's not going back. You might not be a follower, but you are a Christian. And now I have to go. I will talk to you later. Bye. Love you."

I hang up before he can add any more to this dog ownership turned theological discussion and sprint outside to middle school recess duty. I stand there trying to collect my thoughts.

A dog???? He never even was really excited about our dogs.
A dog would be a good companion for him living all alone in that apartment.

He isn't allowed to have a dog. And the pet deposit is outrageous. Like $500.

But it would be good for him to have a friend. You love the companionship.

A dog??? It would probably not be housebroken and I would have to pay for new carpet.

Maybe he would take care of it. Maybe the responsibility would be good for him.

A dog? It would probably chew up the cupboards and I would have to pay for them. 

But they thought they were doing a good thing by taking the dog in. You always wanted to raise compassionate, caring sons. 

Yeah, but not a dog. Not in the apartment. It would get sick and I would have to pay for it.

Later, as I drive home from work, I talk again, to both my son and his brother. I explain my bottom line- dogs are a commitment, a financial responsibility. We would have to pay a deposit. He would have to buy food. Most weeks he can barely feed himself on what I give him and I don't have any more. The dog would need shots. It might get sick and he couldn't pay for it.  And dogs are a time commitment- they have to be fed. Walked. Loved. Taken outside.  Often.

He explains again that they found it. Wanted to help. Thought they were doing a good thing. He would like the companionship. And he didn't have a dad. And he needs practice. And he can practice religion his own way. And. And. And. And…

And the outcome of our conversation is the same. He wants a dog. I love dogs and do not think it's a good idea for him right now, at least partly because I can't afford to help him pay for it.  We hang up with the issue unresolved.

And I wonder if there will ever be a day that this parenting stuff is easy. In my next life, I think I will just do dogs.


Ramona said...

Someday I want to meet the woman behind these words. Carol, your last comment is one for the books. It reminds me of my oldest sister (who has six adopted children). Her passion is genealogy because those dead folks don't talk back.

LibraryDragon/Storykeeper said...

My guess - You have a new grand-puppy.

Love the writing I can feel the unease the love. I also know when a battle is lost.

Nanc said... about everything...he is trying to find himself through dog ownership. My Kelly got a dog too during college, in her dorm, even worse than an apartment because she could get kicked out if anyone ever saw it...I think I would write the post, but she would read it...hmmm and it would come tumbling back at me. And I love the line about not being a Christian and your great response! xo

Linda B said...

Smooth sailing would be a treat, but really think that it isn't that way ever. Even if it's a little thing, it's another "thing", to wonder if one is making the right decision, wonder if the 'child' will ever pick up the 'grown up' piece. Best to you, Carol!

Tara said...

I loved the back and forth here, Carol - and he plaintive, "but I thought you liked dogs!" You were wise to hold firm - those college pets always wind up back in your house. Just ask me about the pets we have in our house at the moment!

elsie said...

Parenting never gets easier. This is a struggle between your heart and your head. I hope he realizes this is not a good choice for this time of his life. But then, you never know what will motivate ...

Michelle said...

Oh, Carol, if it's not one thing, it's another! Everyone is keeping you on your toes in your life! Loved your last line...I laughed out loud. The back and forth conversation made this such a fun read -- and he knew just what to say about being a dog lover! And I have to agree, I think you have a new grand-puppy!

Tabatha said...

Sigh, that's tough. Too bad they didn't find a goldfish in a bowl on the street!

Stacey Shubitz said...

People have always told me (since getting pregnant): "Little people, little problems. Big people, big problems." It's really true. This parenting thing is so tricky.

You're doing the right thing. I totally believe it with every bone in my body. He was trying to push your buttons and get you to react with the comments about religion and you liking dogs. I admire the way you're sticking to your guns, Carol.

How would you feel about me using this piece as one of the "be inspired" pieces later on this month? Please lmk by Sun., 3/23 if that'd be okay. You can email me at stacey{at}staceyshubitz{dot}com. Thanks!

Diane Sweeney said...

I like how you go back and forth between both sides of the decision. Shows how decisions aren't always easy.

Karen said...

I'm a little further down the road with the parenting thing and it hasn't gotten easier, just bigger issues, it seems. But I loved your dialogue - both spoken and train of thought. I might be borrowing this technique soon. Best of luck resolving which way to go with the dog issue!!!

Unknown said...

I love the last sentence: "And I wonder if there will ever be a day that this parenting stuff is easy. In my next life, I think I will just do dogs." Stay firm, my mom didn't and she ended up raising a dog, cat and two rabbits. They all seemed to make sense to me as a college student:) I was learning how to be responsible too!