Kidlets


Jesus H. Christ, yesterday was day 3(!) of my blogging adventure and I ALREADY forgot to link to a favorite blog as promised in my very first blog post ever.  So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen here is Laurie, aka Crazy Aunt Purl.  I taught myself how to knit two years ago, and still fall squarely on the novice end of the spectrum.  But I stumbled across her blog while looking for a pattern for a simple hat, and her blog is so much more than knitting.  So…check her out.

Now that we’ve dispensed with business, let me share more with you about our household.  Not only do we include me, my husband, and the three kidlets, we have two dogs who are most certainly a part of the family.  My husband and I each brought a dog into our relationship when we reconnected a few years ago (THAT’S a story for another entry).  His dog is Mucho Grande, and mine is teeny (but NOT a purse dog, I would like to vehemently and stridently clarify).  Of course, there are both now “our” dogs.

Big Dog weighs over 80 pounds, and Little Dog weighs about 8.  They are different breeds (duh), but they have the same coloring and markings, which makes for some amusing photo ops (Big Dog and Little Dog, standing next to each other, heads cocked in the exact same way, for example).

While I bought Little Dog from a friend and former co-worker who very occasionally breeds her dogs, my husband adopted Big Dog from a rescue organization.  And oh, Big Dog’s story is filled with woe.  We can’t be sure how old he is; at this point, somewhere between 5 and 9 is our best guess (Little Dog is 5).  His prior owner was a woman a few states away, and one day her boyfriend decided he didn’t like Big Dog.  So he beat him.  Nearly to death.  With a baseball bat.

Before my husband adopted Big Dog, the rescue group handled all the vet care and follow-up, including skull x-rays and a doggie brain scan to determine if he suffered any brain damage (if you look at him closely, you can still see that his head is somewhat misshapen from where his skull was fractured).  Mercifully, Big Dog recovered fully from his injuries.

Big Dog and my husband lived together, two badass bachelors, for about a year before I came (back) into the picture.  Soon after my husband and I got back in touch, I went to visit him without Little Dog.  I still remember Big Dog running in the back yard of my husband’s house.  Quite understandably, Big Dog is very, very wary of strangers (less so of strange women, but still wary).  My husband introduced me to Big Dog in the back yard, so Big Dog would have lots of space to run, and not feel cornered.  Big Dog ran and frolicked, and appeared nervous but not ridiculously scared.  After a few minutes, he walked up to me, sort of half-licked my hand, and then ran away.  From that point on, Big Dog and I have been great friends.

Next up was introducing Big Dog to Little Dog.  We were both nervous: after all, Big Dog is so…big, and Little Dog is very little (but sassy, I tell you!).  We needn’t have worried.  Big Dog and Little Dog got along like gangbusters from the get go.  Big Dog is a neutered male, and Little Dog is a spayed female.  Nevertheless, during that first weekend together, Little Dog got all up on Big Dog and humped away.  It was one of those rare moments when something incredibly hilarious happens, and BOTH of us were actually there to see it happen.  We took video of it on my camera (which we still have, and watch, and laugh at).  All in all, dog introduction was a huge success.

Our last hurdle was introducing Big Dog to my daughters, D1 and D2.  D1 and D2 both LOVE dogs, but at that point were very limited in terms of large dog experience.  And then there was the whole issue of Big Dog’s abuse history, and our uncertainty over how he would react to kids (particularly boisterous D2).  We never once worried that Big Dog would be aggressive toward the kids.  We were more concerned that the kids would stress him out in some way.

Once again, our concerns were unfounded.  Big Dog took to the girls immediately.  They lay on him and snuggle with him and play with him and give him treats and take unrestrained pleasure in telling him to sit (Little Dog, I’m afraid, does not sit on command).  When they come home from school, their first greeting is always for Big Dog (not for the babysitter, or for their new baby brother, or for their lame old mom if I’m fortunate to have the day off).

I can’t imagine life without the dogs.  Even if I do have to give Big Dog fancy spa foot baths (read: wash his paws in a pitcher of water) on muddy days after he’s been outside.

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Much to my surprise, the universe has rendered me responsible for the caretaking of not one, not two, but three kidlets.  My oldest two, D1 and D2, are from my former marriage.  The baby (who is still actually a baby), S, is from my current marriage.

D1 is at the tail end of her elementary school career.  And oh my hell, these are the days of our fifth grade lives.  She is like me: bookish, sensitive, very “traditionally” smart (meaning she is exceedingly fortunate enough to learn very well in a traditional public school environment).  She has a highly developed sense of empathy, and I struggle at times with worry that she will repeat my own mistakes of always, ALWAYS putting others before herself.  She thinks so much about how things make her and others feel, that she sometimes renders herself unable to actually talk about her feelings.  I think her empathy is a wonderful gift, and I hope that as she grows she will learn how to manage her empathy without it getting in the way of doing what’s best for herself.

D2 is midway through elementary school.  And let me tell you…oh, that two children born to the same parents could be so shockingly, obviously, amazingly different.  D2 will not hesitate to tell you to fuck off (not in those words, much to my relief, but you get the idea) if you are pissing her off, looking at her askance, or breathing in a way that bothers her.  I have to admit, I LOVE this about her.  She is so different from me.  I imagine some of this difference between D1 and D2 is attributable to birth order, some is attributable to goings-on in our house when D2 was a toddler.  And some of it is, I’m sure, plain old genetics.  I’m glad D2 knows how to identify her own wants and needs.  I hope that as SHE grows she will learn how to consistently express those wants and needs in ways that are respectful of other people.

And then there’s S.  I swear to God, the sun shines directly out of this kid’s butthole.  In retrospect, D1 was in the middle of the “baby maintenance” spectrum.  She was neither exceedingly difficult, or tremendously easy.  D2, on the other hand, had colic for a year.  That’s right.  A whole fucking year.  I look back at baby pictures of her and her poor distended belly, and I think to myself “self, no wonder she was so miserable.”  But goddamn, at the time, it was excruciating.  I would lay in bed at night, close my eyes and pray a fervent prayer that she would go to sleep.  I would count; if I made it to 100, I could usually expect a few hours of sleep.  And when the cries would start at 23, or 48, or 71…oh, the despair.

But this boy.  He is the single happiest baby I have ever encountered in my whole entire life.  He sleeps every night from 8 pm until 6 am the next morning.  He smiles.  He plays.  He laughs.  He babbles.  When he cries, it is for ten seconds, max.

There are things in my life that I sometimes allow to bring me down.  Man, I know how to throw one hell of a pity party.  I was emailing with a friend the other day about those frustrations, and we both lamented karma and the way it is TOTALLY not doing its job right now.  But the more I thought about it, the more I thought, my kidlets are indeed my karmic reward.  Three kids, on three different ends of the kidlet spectrum, all wonderful, and all bringing so much joy to my life.  Believe me, there are days when I am ready to send them all packing with the first person who knocks on the door.  But I’m trying so hard to focus my energy on all the gloriousness the world has given me.  And these three little ones…they are at the top of the list.