“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Sunday, August 19, 2012

About Joey, Summer, And Dog Poop

On Friday night, Joe and I introduced our lives to something new. A dog.

She is a sweet and lovely one-year-old dachshund/chihuahua mix, a "chiweenie." Noah and Joey named her Bree, after a character in one of their favorite Disney shows (Joey swears it isn't so, but I think he has a crush on her). She is calm and cuddly, but fun and playful with the boys. So far, two full days in, things are going well.

Noah is incredibly excited about having Bree. He calls her, "our girl" and, "my dog." When he came downstairs from his "nap" today, he said exuberantly, "Hi, Mom! Where's our girl?" He loves running with her, playing ball with her, having her sit beside him while he swings on his playground, and, most of all, snuggling up with her while watching TV. I could never say this out loud, but I think Noah has bonded with Bree more than anyone else in the house. She absolutely loves him back.

Joey has a harder time understanding that dogs are living, thinking beings who are not going to fit the mold set by TV, movies, and books. He keeps trying to randomly "train" her. Out in the yard when she's supposed to be "all-business," Joey will suddenly leap in front of her and say loudly, "SIT, Bree. I said SIT," and she just looks at him like he has forty heads. I don't blame her.

Joey had an especially difficult day today. I've heard tell that late summer is rough for parents, because the long days of having the children home begin to kind of drone on. They feel restless, we feel restless...it's all true. I hate school. I hated it most of all as a student, but I continue to have a problem with it now as a mom. Germs, homework, learning...it all stinks. I don't say this out loud to Joey...hardly ever, but it's almost always what I'm thinking. Especially about the germs. Actually, I talk about that pretty often.

Anyway, Joey is totally in the late summer humdrums, and it seems to be pushing some previously unknown buttons inside him. Nothing I can really put my finger on, just a lot of poor judgment, I guess.  He has NO common sense at all. People say that about me, I think, but I'm like this old, scatterbrained MOM and he's just a kid. It can't possibly be the same. Yesterday, for example, we were all sitting together in the family room watching a movie, our new dog Bree nestled between her two enthralled human brothers, when suddenly Joey produced--I seriously don't know where he found it or how it just appeared in his hand--this long necklace with a plastic guitar on the end. I'm sure if our babysitters are reading this they're saying, "Oh, yes, I know that necklace," because it does seem to repeatedly appear. So Joey pulled out the necklace and started swinging it around one finger, so the plastic guitar was hooshing through the air, whizzing dangerously close to a) the coffee table, b) Noah, and c) Bree. Not to mention Joey's own face. How can you not watch out for your own face? Big Joe said, "Joey! Don't swing that around!" and Joey stopped. Not five minutes later, he started swinging the necklace again. "Joey! Daddy said stop," I said. He stopped. Three minutes passed. AGAIN he started swinging the necklace. "Joey!" Big Joe said firmly (actually, he kind of barked it; he's noisy). "Put that necklace on top of the fireplace and don't touch it again." Joey did as he was told.

Ten minutes later, the necklace was in his hand, and he was swinging it again.

I don't think he's Harry Potter. I don't think he accioed the necklace. I don't think he used the Force, or that his super powerful brain just subconsciously willed the necklace to him, as he seemed to believe happened when we said, "Joey, why did you take that necklace again?!" This, by the way, is a stupid thing parents do in response to stupid things kids do. We ask them why they did it. He didn't know why. There IS no why. Kids are wonderful. They are sweet and giving and make life worth living. But, man. Sometimes they are really, really stupid. Don't get all judge-y on me. You know it's true. Those what the hell moments happen to everybody. My mom told me.

So this is the kind of weekend Joey's been having. And then, today, when I left him in charge of Bree so I could take care of a cut on Noah's foot, it seemed that she had "done her duty" for him. I thought, "Well, that's something. He can take the dog out for me." I said, "Great! What did she do?"

Joey said, "Well, she kind of squatted down like this," and he demonstrated.

"Uh, I guess that must have been pee?" I guessed, though his squatting didn't really look like anything but weirdness to me. "Did you see a poop?" Gross, I know, but it's an obvious and important question.

"Nah," he said, handing the leash to me. "I don't think so."


What? He didn't "think" so? What does that even mean? Either there's a poop or there isn't, right? So I said, "Joey, do you remember where Bree went?"

"Oh, sure, Mom," he said confidently, striding over to The Place. He stomped his bare foot down (because he always argues about whether he needs shoes and is apparently too cool for them) in the grass at the suspected area. "Right here. See? It's even wet. It couldn't have been...hey! What is this stuck to my foot? It's...GAH! AUGH! ARGH! EWWWW!" He lost his balance, and ended smearing Bree's "just pee" across his whole other shin, which made him start gagging noisily. In between gags, he coughed out, "Ew! Igh! It's on me! It's on me! MOOOOOOOOM!"

I hope you don't think I'm too insensitive that I started laughing, because I did. And as I set Noah up in a chair with Bree's leash and prepared to go inside and get cleanup materials, and Joey shouted, "OH MY GOD! THERE ARE BEES ON ME EATING IT!!!!!!" I thought I might cry from laughter. Really cry. Because it was all so ridiculous, and truly funny, and...truly Joey.

I love him. More than my life, more than air, more than French fries. More than wine and cheese. More than I could ever imagine loving anyone or thing. And he is wonderful. But boy...he's just so...Joey.

I felt badly later, though, especially because the poor kid has heard so many, "No!" and, "Don't do that!" remarks in the last couple of days that I thought maybe he could use a little extra positive. So I said, "Joey, I want you to know, you are--"

"Foolish?" he interrupted.

I felt terrible. "No," I said gently. "I was going to say sweet. And kind, and smart, and funny, and so many good things. And I want you to know that everyone does foolish things. Even Mommy. Even Daddy."

"You do?"

"Yes," I said. "Everyone has bad days."

"That's cool, I guess," he said. He was silent a second and then said, "But I didn't have a bad day. Why are you telling me this?"

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