My eight-year-old son surprised me last weekend, when he poured himself a bowl of Cookie Crisp cereal for breakfast. Ever since Finn and his six-year-old sister Maeve could speak, they’ve been asking for that treat whenever we stroll the grocery store’s cereal aisle – and I’ve always refused, somehow exercising that often elusive “good parenting” gene.
So how did that box of chocolate crap get into the house?
“Mommy bought it for me . . . because you won’t buy us a puppy,” Finn explained.
And with that, I knew it was back. The decade-old dog debate that Kelly and I engage in about twice a year. Kelly (being of irrational and totally emotional state-of-mind) wants a dog to permanently join our already loving and lively household. I (being of logical and reasonable state-of-mind) do not.
It’s not that I’m averse to the excitement and joy a dog could provide our family. It’s just that I know my limitations. After consecutive mornings of kids coughing across my breakfast and brokering peace accords because someone sneaked an extra Flintstones vitamin, the last thing I need to worry about is a dog creating more chaos. Dogs are work. And for most accidental adults, getting through the day being the best possible father, husband, son, brother, neighbor and sometimes drinking buddy is simply exhausting. Why throw more responsibilities into the mix?
Well according to Kelly, here’s why . . . along with my own wise, compelling and thoroughly reasoned responses.
Kelly: Dogs just want to give you love.
Colin: I don’t want an animal watching me eat my lunch.
Kelly: You won’t have to do a thing. The kids are I will take care of it.
Colin: Right. So I’ll be the jerk sitting on the couch watching it pee in the corner because I’m not taking the dog outside unless it’s 70 degrees or warmer. That will be fine with you?
Kelly: Just live a little! Life is short!
Colin: How long do dogs live?
Kelly: Don’t you want something soft, warm and fuzzy running around the house?
Colin: We have Maeve.
The truth is, now that our children are gradually becoming more self-sufficient, I’d like to keep that momentum going. That means not waking before 8 a.m. on weekends. Not attending to anyone else’s bowel movements. Not securing and monitoring a series of gates around rooms that are off-limits. Our children have taken us beyond those stages. But like most kids, they’ve become great at promises of responsibility, but not always so consistent on the follow-through. So if I did give in and agree to getting a dog, guess who’d be left holding the leash?
Sure, Kelly will continue to text me photos of our kids holding puppies at pet stores in a ploy to manipulate my emotions and position me as the bad guy denying his children their hearts’ desire. But like most of these dog-driven debates, this latest flare up will likely pass with the same result. No dog for us – for now at least. So while I’ve got a good thing going, I’m enjoying the reprieve.
Later that morning, when my kids were distracted by Sunday morning television, I poured myself a bowl of Cookie Crisp. As I enjoyed that sugary sweet cereal free of a dog’s unnerving stare, I thought to myself, maybe I had made too big of a deal over chocolate breakfast cereal. If this is the way we compensate for not giving our children a dog, I suppose I can live with that.
It was a sweet breakfast indeed.