Monday, September 28, 2009

It Only Hurts When I Think About Him

Once upon a time, we had four pets. Two dogs and two cats. Sweetie Pie and I were like the Brady bunch, I came into the relationship with the two cats, he came with the two dogs, and when we moved in together, we made everyone learn to get along.

Eventually, we lost Sweetie Pie's lab to cancer, a horrible disease that meant that I had to hold that big yellow head on my lap, whispering how much I love him as the vet injected him with poison to stop his heart and his suffering.

Then, a year or two ago (time seems so fluid to me since I've had children, where the years all seem interchangeable and the only change is how big my children are getting), my younger cat (then 8 years old), suddenly disappeared. Either he headed for a better home where he'd be fed filet mignon every day, or he was snatched by a coyote who's first name was definitely not Wile E. since this cat, albeit fat, was quick.

Then there was Satan's Dog, our first lab's replacement and the dog that still can not be spoken of without dismay, the dog who loved with all his heart, when he wasn't leaving a path of destruction. The dog that I finally got rid of when he attacked our Old Dog so badly that the poor old dog was left missing a piece of his lip. And I became frightened for my children, my toddler and my then brand new baby, because if the dog was willing to turn on his best friend who he adored, why wouldn't he do the same to one of my kids? So I made the devastatingly difficult to give the dog up to a non-kill shelter, who looked for a new home for him without kids or other dogs.

Earlier this year, my old cat, the one I'd had since I was 14, the one who saw me through gawkiness and acne, the slutty years and let me feed her hot dog when we were stranded in Atlanta on our way to moving to Dallas, the one who saw me grow up and then saw my children be born (not literally, obviously, I don't know of any hospital who'd allow a cat to serve as your doula).

And then there was one. His name was chosen by me, and I'd known him since he was this little fur ball of a few months, a little ball that would lay on my lap, his head tucked between my chest and my arm. He was sweet, he was loving, he was quiet, and I loved him to pieces because despite being a dog, he had the personality of a cat. He didn't need to be in your face all the time, he was perfectly content laying in the same room as you for company. Or not, as he often chose to sleep on our bed while I worked in the living room.

Old Dog didn't care about most people, really, not disliking them, per se and greeting them so that they would know he was a dog, but he just rocked, is all. When I brought Little Man home, Old Dog, every time I'd let him in would run right for the bassinette, climb carefully with his front paws on the window sill and look in the bassinette to make sure the little human was ok. Once, Little Man had actually accepted to sleep in his crib, and when the dog ran in and saw that the child was missing from the bassinette, he practically freaked out and ran over to make me aware that the baby was missing. I think this might be the one and only time he pulled a Lassie move. It was unlike him and reminded me that he cared more than his aloofness would let on.

When Tiny Man came, Old Dog didn't care, as he'd long learned that infants grow up to be children who love to throw bouncy balls at his head. Tiny Man, however, was completely enamored with the dog, his whole little face lighting up, grabbing the dog's nose, ears, fur, whatever was in reach while squealing in his ear to show his love and adoration. Not once did the dog growl or even sigh as he was tortured by the baby. He considered it his duty to be a baby punching bag apparently, and he did it so well.

A few months ago, the dog began to have issues. He would pee all the time, sometime couldn't wait until he got outside and he would drink like crazy. A trip to the vet found him to be diabetic. I learned to give insulin shots, he was put on a special diet and life went on. Then in August, while we were in Canada, the dog, while staying at the vet's had three seizures. The vet asked me if I'd seen him having a seizure and I felt horrible, thought maybe I hadn't been observant enough, since really, I hadn't noticed anything. The dog was put on an epilepsy drug as well, and life went on.

Except that it didn't. The dog began to have more and more seizures. The medicine was supposed to take two weeks to regulate his system, but at week three, he was having multiple seizures a day, pooping in the house, having issues with his back legs and my husband demanded answers from the vet, but none that could be provided without spending $2,000 in full body scans. Money that we didn't have, nor were we willing to spend on a 10-year old dog.

This morning, I came home from dropping off the kids at school and found the dog tangled in our swing bench in the backyard. His collar was caught on a rod and he was howling in pain or from an epilepsy attack. His whole body was wedged between two parts of the bench, his paws caught in different parts. As I tried to free him, I either hurt him or he got scared, and he bit me. But even at his worse moment in life, my sweet, sweet dog didn't even bite hard enough to break the skin. I somehow freed him and he began to flop like a fish, a horrible sight that will remain burned in my brain for a long, long time. I rushed inside the house and called Sweetie Pie in hysterics, who jumped in his truck to head home. I called the vet to make them aware of the situation and then headed back out to be with my dog, who was now laying in the grass, panting heavily and whining in pain, his back legs stretched out in a distorted manner.

I rubbed that dog's head, a head that I've rubbed and kissed probably 10 thousand times during the past 10 years. I told him how sorry I was that I put him outside, because I'd done so to prevent yet another accident on my cream carpets. I cursed myself for my selfishness and cried. And then I held him some more. When Sweetie Pie got home, we placed him on a blanket and carried him to the truck. When we got to the vet's office, they brought my sweet dog to the back and I could see them testing his reflexes, and I could see his paws not responding. When I saw this, my brain knew that it was over and my heart broke in so many pieces that it will be a long time before it's whole again.

The vet confirmed the paralysis for us and told us that either the dog had a severe seizure that caused it, or else an undiagnosed spinal tumor is the cause of everything the dog has gone through these past months.

He then told us it was time to let the dog go. And I cried some more, and Sweetie Pie, for the third time in all of our years together cried too. I told the vet I needed to be with Old Dog when he died, because no matter how much it hurts, I cannot have one of my pets die alone on a cold veterinarian table.

And so they brought him in and he wailed in my lap and I told him that he was a good dog and sorry I was that I couldn't take his pain away. I told him how much we loved him and how much we'd miss him. How much he lit up my children's lives and how grateful I am that they got to know him.

Today I grieve. I grieve for my favorite dog. I grieve for the fact that I'm writing this in a pet-free home,something I haven't know in 25 years. I grieve for the fact that his collar is the only thing I have of his. I grieve for the fact that I need to explain to my four-year old that he's lost yet another pet. I grieve for Tiny Man who's too young to understand what happened and will more likely look for his dog when he gets home tonight.

But most of all, I grieve because tonight, there won't be a giant ball of fur with the softest ears ever made laying in my spot in bed. There won't be a dog there for me to snuggle, who'll just sigh and get up to leave because he doesn't like to snuggle.

I miss you Old Dog.



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Showing His Competitive Side

This month, Little Man began chess classes at school. Even though this will make some of you snicker that I'm guaranteeing that my son will get beaten up in middle school and high school, I assure you that I'm cancelling out the nerdiness with Tae Kwondo classes so that anyone who does make the bad decision to mock my son's nerdiness will probably stop when they end up in the hospital with broken bones.

I wanted Little Man to start taking chess since research shows that mastering chess works out the parts of the brain that help with math and science. And since I always struggled with math, I figure any advantage I can give my child aren't a bad thing.

Little Man has only taken three classes at this point, and it's unclear as to whether he's really learned anything except for the fact that there are black and white pieces involved.

He came home with an assignment, a paper where he had to figure out how to get check mate in one move and after Sweetie Pie had it all figured out, he decided to break out the chess board to demonstrate the problems to Little Man.

"So, Little Man, do you know what the point of chess is?

- Yeah. It's to win.

- Uhm, actually, it's to get the opponent's king.

- No. The whole point of chess is to win."

I know I've been known to be so ultra-competitive at Pictionary that people have refused to play with me, but I'm thinking the competitiveness gene? It is mighty strong.



Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Forty-Eight Months: My Letter to Little Man

So here we are. Four years old. I'm not sure what happened, maybe I sneezed or blinked, maybe I even turned my head for a second. Whatever it was, all I know is that suddenly, you've become a child. One who's big and plays T-ball and states his opinion about everything and obsesses about signs and what they say and doesn't. ever. stop. talking.

Oh the talking. I know I've mentioned the talking before, but I could never talk enough about the amount of talking you do. If you were a cartoon strip, I would get smothered by your conversation bubbles in two frames flat. You can out-talk me, my child, which is freaking unbelievable, because I swear your father thinks I deserve a world record for my talking. And yet, the talking gene mutated when you were created and turned into this monster talking machine that favors the word 'why'.

My dreams are haunted by the why question. Hell, so are my days. I can't answer anything without you asking 'why?' as a follow up and there are days where I'll whip my head around to you in exasperation and you'll sigh and say 'ok, no more questions, Mommy.' Which by the way? How'd you get so great at making people feel like shit after you've practically given them an aneurysm from your endless questions? That's talent, right there! I always feel horrible when you say that, like I should prompt you to interrogate me for another 30 minutes, just for hurting your feelings.

Your love for your brother now knows no bounds. You've moved in with him, because you claimed you missed him too much at night to be away from him for that long. You continue to pepper him with kisses and in his eyes, you are the most amazing being there ever could be. Which is a pretty true assessment of you. You are amazing, smart, perceptive and hilarious when you choose to be.

You're so funny, that you have been most of my status updates on Facebook this past month (do they still have Facebook when you're reading this? Or are you shaking your head thinking about how embarrassing it is that your mother is infatuated with archaic techology like Facebook and the driven car). Some of my favorites include:

When asked what you wanted for your birthday: "I just want a present that when I open it, I go 'wow, that's really awesome!'"

About your little brother: "When is Tiny Man going to learn to get stuff for me?"

After all your friends left your 4th birthday party: "Well, I'm almost five now."

Me: "I'm keeping my fingers crossed."
You: "I can see your fingers, and they're not crossed.
- Well, they're crossed in my mind.
(sigh) - You don't have fingers in your mind."

You: "I'm going to marry (name of best guy friend from school) when I grow up."
Me: "Well, you live in Texas, where they say that a man has to marry a woman.
- Where can I get married then.
- You can get married in Canada.
- Fine then, me and (best guy friend from school) will go to Canada. And we'll get married in Canada. Will you come to my wedding?
- I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Although, you absolutely despise people laughing at your jokes, as you take everything so personally, to the point that I once yelled at you "WILL YOU FREAKING LIGHTEN UP? YOU'RE NOT EVEN FOUR YET, STOP ACTING LIKE AN 80-YEAR OLD!"

Your father says that you and I, we're like an old married couple, we bicker all the time, and yet it's obvious to anyone who knows us that there's a deep love and respect there. And that's probably true. And if I have to bicker with you for the rest of my life, then I'm ok with that, because every night, I kiss you goodnight and you squeeze me so hard, that my heart practically implodes.

You're an amazing child. We were at CVS the other day (no shocker there, we go to CVS so much, you practically know the aisles by heart) and the cashier that day, who is fairly new, said to me "You look like you're a good mom." The truth is? I'm not the good one. I'm just lucky enough to have you for a first-born. You make it look easy, kid. And I love that you make me look good. I hope I make you look good too.

One morning, you were watching me fumble with my eye shadow and you said to me "can I try?" I figured, what the hey, that's why they invented make up remover, right? Your first attempt was exactly what I expected: I looked like a clown with a black eye. I thanked you for your services. The next day, you came back in the bathroom and asked me if you could try again. Once again, I sat on the floor and let you have fun, my small attempt at imagining life with two girls would be like. You frowned and carefully applied the eye shadow with much concentration and then you nodded and told me you were done, and that I could take a look. When I looked in the mirror, I stared at my reflection stunned. You'd done a better job than I do.

And that's you in a nutshell. It doesn't matter what the activity is, if you try hard enough, you'll not only master it, but you'll master it better than the person you watched. It's no wonder your brother and I are so awed by you.

I love you, my Little Man,


Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Typical Conversation in This House

"Sweetie Pie, what do you think we should get your father for his birthday?

- I had an idea this year. We should get him an El Cunt."


"What the hell is an el cunt?

- You don't know what an el cunt is?

- No. I don't, how do you even spell that? E-L-C-U-N-T?"

Another pause to allow for Sweetie Pie to be revived by the paramedics from dying of laughter.

"What the hell do you think I'm proposing we buy my father? A Mexican whore? I said elk hunt!

- Oh. That makes a lot more sense. How much does that cost?

- Probably a couple thousand dollars.

- Yeah, let's get him the Mexican whore instead, then."