The Kidling and The Pup

The Family recently grew by one member. No, I did not produce any more precocious progeny; this time, I bought it. The progeny. Of a dog.

We got a dog.

This was an ongoing conversation in our home, with The Kidling actively involved. We looked at old dogs, puppies, and middle-aged dogs. Rescues and breeder pups. Near and far. When I finally found a pup I was genuinely enamored of, I showed The Kidling a picture.

She flipped.

Cries of When can we get her?! and How many days is that?!?!? filled every waking moment at Our House. I deferred and deflected while working out a plan, then I did something new.

I lied.

“I am working with the woman who has her, Kidling. I think we can get her sometime next week,” I assured her.

The covetous response was overwhelming. More pleading, this time with Can we get her as early as possible next week? and How many days is that? erupting from her 6 year-old mouth with angst befitting a child 7 years her senior. I explained the approximate amount of time that would be, stressing that it was really just an estimate, as we were still figuring out the details.

Pants on fire, Mama. Pants on fire.

I had a plan. Damn genius, if you ask me. You see, The Kidling was spending the weekend with The Grandma, and I made plans to get that sweet little bundle of fur the day before The Kidling returned to Our Town. I would drive to the agreed-upon location to pick The Kidling up, she would be so so so happy to see me, then TA-DA the pooch would prance up accompanied by squeals of glee, lick The Kidling’s sweet face, and we would all live happily ever after (yes, I am ignoring the teen years in this scenario. Sue me.)

The cutest dog in the entire world lives in Our House. Coincidentally, so does the cutest (and smartest) child.

The cutest dog in the entire world lives in Our House. Coincidentally, so does the cutest (and smartest) child.

The big day arrived. There was a minor kink in the form of a freaking monsoon that made its way across the Middle U.S. that afternoon, but otherwise, the plan went off without a hitch. Her face registered shock and delight in that beautiful moment where she first laid eyes on The Pup. Joy radiated from every tiny kidling pore as we loaded up the car and drove back toward Our Town.

I basked in The Kidling’s reaction, watching and feeling and hearing evidence of her bliss. “Do you like her?” I asked knowingly, as the car rolled down the rain-soaked highway.

I like her even better in person—I mean—in animal!”

Yes, The Kidling has met her new best friend.

 

vegetable kings and protein princes

“Mom, what can I have for snack?” The Kidling inquired at bedtime, every child’s favorite time to realize her need for sustenance. “I want yogurt. And cheese!”

“No, Sweetie you can’t have them both. They are in the same food group.”

“They are?” she asked. “Oh yeah!” she quickly recalled, “Dairy Queen.”

inner beauty

Oh, beauty.

I have written about the topic on these pages before. Beauty is more complicated than I would like for it to be, but it is something that we all have to handle. Parents in particular. I try (and try and try) to ensure The Kidling understands that beauty is, in fact, superfluous. That other things–that all other things–are more important. We praise her for important characteristics: kindness, hard work, ingenuity, generosity, strength, courage. I am so adamant about praising her for commendable behaviors and attributes that it occurred to me last week that I could not recall the last time I had shared glowing words about her appearance.

Well, other than growling, “I love your face!” at her. But we all know that “I love your face” is really a commentary on the fact of her face. I love that she has a face. I love that she is. Always.

Well, almost always.

Knowing that I have likely been remiss in completely excluding flattering words about her physical appearance, I complimented her. But I did it carefully.

“Kidling, I know this isn’t what’s important, but you are a beautiful girl,” I told her. She glowed, and I knew that she knew that beauty is more important to the outside world than I let on. I am going to pretend for a moment that this isn’t a result of my not-infrequent primping.

Or the fact that The Kidling said to me last week (in response to my delay getting ready one morning), “Yeah, Mom. It’s not like your hair has to be perfectly fancy.”

As such, when she began to carry on about what makes a person good tonight on the way home, I was delighted to hear her say, “It’s who you are that counts!”

“That’s right,” I gloated agreed. “You mean on the inside?”

“No,” she replied, “on the outside.”

Back to the drawing board.

on relationships and subtext

The Kidling, as you know (unless you have been living under a rock), is in kindergarten.

Sigh.

My darling, sassy, precocious, obstinate school-age kidling has several older friends with whom she regularly plays at recess.

Sidebar. Did you play with big kids during recess when you were a child? Because I most certainly did not. I lived in a strictly grade-divided time. The big kids picked on the little kids, the little kids cried, end of story. There was no “playing with” or “having fun” going on. Pure torture was the only permissible interaction.

As I was saying: The Kidling. Big kids. Recess. I rarely get an entire story out of her, but I often get little tidbits. Last night, The Kidling started to tell me about a conversation she had with some of the big kids.

The Kidling: Owen asked me a weird question. He said “I have a weird question.” Then he said to Scott, “Should I ask her?” and Scott said, “It was your idea.”

The Mama: (waits. for, like, ever. this part of the conversation was longer than it looks. I can’t remember everything, dear readers, but I do my best)

The Kidling: Then Owen said, “Do you play Minecraft?”

The Mama: Why did he think it was a weird question?

The Kidling: Maybe he thought I would hurt him, but we don’t hurt at school.

The Mama: Well, maybe he just thought it was a strange question because he thought you wouldn’t have played Minecraft? Or maybe he thought you definitely would have played?

The Kidling: (shrugs) I can’t read his mind.

Oh, dear one. This won’t be the only time those words come out of your mouth.