May 11, 2005

For the Creative Readers...

Venture IV into the Creative Writing endeavour...

I knew by the look on my daughter’s face that either I wouldn’t like what she had to say or it was going to cost a lot of money. If previous experience were any example, it would probably be both. My wife, Sue, had just come home with our daughter, who had just been at a birthday party for one of her pre-school friends. Joy jumped down from Mommy’s arms and ran into my lap as I was reading my Sports Illustrated in my chair and gave me a big peck on the cheek.
“Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” she yelled, a big grin on her face.
I put the magazine in the rack and gave her a big hug. “Why’s my little sweet thing so excited?”
She just laughed and hopped out of my lap, falling to all fours on the soft shag and crawling around sniffing the floor. I chuckled, but thought that it was odd that our four year-old little girl was crawling after having been walking for so long. Then my wife strolled into the room, walked over to my recliner and leaned in to kiss me hello.
“Welcome back, hon – how was the party?”
“Well, I think Joy found it to be very inspirational.”
“Whose party did she go to, again?”
“Rita Stuart’s. And guess what her parents got her?”
I didn’t want to put two and two together, but my arithmetic skills were disappointingly sound. As realization struck me, I mentally crossed the Stuarts off our Christmas card list. There was Joy, as excited as I’d ever seen her, running about on hands and knees and sniffing the floor between laughs. I could feel a concerned look creep up my face as I looked into Sue’s. As she smiled and just nodded her head, Joy jumped into my lap and yelled the word I was dreading she’d say.
I knew it. This was indeed going to cost me a lot of money. I looked pleadingly up to my wife again, letting my eyes beg her that this wasn’t so. She bit her lower lip and shook her head. “Let’s let her be excited for a while and then talk with her about it over dinner.”
I swallowed my fear and played with her until, letting her bark and roll around the living like any good puppy would. My goal was to get the excitement of having/being a puppy out of her so we could talk seriously about the responsibility of having a dog. When I got to the table I suddenly remembered an important fact that would impede such a conversation – Joy was four.
“Daddy, when can we get a puppy?”
“Well, Joy, Mommy and I need to talk to you about that.” As I said that, I noticed that Sue was staring deeply into her dinner. Either she’d found the Virgin Mary in her macaroni and cheese, or I was flying solo.
“Sweetie, having a dog is a big responsibility. It’s not a thing – you have to treat it as if it’s your best friend not a toy.”
“You mean I have I have to call it Rita?”
“No, sweetie, not if you don’t want to, that’s not what I meant.”
“Good, cause I don’t wanna have two friends named Rita.”
This was going to be a tad more difficult than I thought. I looked over to Sue to see that even a mouth full of chicken couldn’t stop her from smiling in amusement. I followed her lead and dug into my dinner, trying to decide where take this talk from the two-friends-with-the-same-name dilemma.
“Joy, why do you want a puppy?”
“Ummm… cause they’re cute, and they’re soft, and they smell funny, and they give licky-kisses. I like licky-kisses – Rita’s puppy gave me licky-kisses a whole bunch.”
“And what did Rita do when her puppy went poopie?” That got me a look from Sue, who apparently didn’t want to talk about poopie at the table. I almost decided to comment on the asparagus she’d made, but thought better of it at the last moment. Joy, on the other hand, found the poopie comment hilarious.
“Daddy!” she laughed. “Doggies don’t go poopie!”
Sue snorted at that, and I couldn’t help but smile myself. The rest of dinner went all right – I was able to maintain a poopie-free discussion with Joy, and she seemed to understand what it took to have a doggie. I told her we might get one in a couple years, but I didn’t think we could handle it right now, and she ran away from the table crying. I looked over to my wife, who had apparently finished her dinner and was in a great hurry to wash off her plate.
Joy didn’t want a story read to her that night, so I kissed her on the forehead as she lay in bed and Sue tucked her in. As I turned out her light, the only thing I could see on her face was her lower lip stuck far out from her top one. I sighed and shut the door, heading to bed myself.
As my wife and I were in bed watching the news, my wife turned to me and said, “You know, it’s not that bad of an idea.”
“You mean the smoking ban?”
“No, I mean getting a puppy.”
Warning signals blared in my mind. “Really? You think that she’s ready for that kind of responsibility?”
“Well, I don’t think that it should just be her responsibility. Our family hasn’t had any pets, and I think that a puppy would be a good start. Besides you saw how crestfallen she was tonight – I think she really had her heart set on a puppy.”
“I know, but she’s only seen the good side of pet care. Yes, puppies are cute, but I don’t want to have to pick up 50 pounds of cute from our yard every month. And that’s if the dog makes it to the yard at all.”
She sat up on her pillows, looking me in the eye. “Sure, but I think this would be a great way to teach her about taking care of things, you know, having certain duties like taking the puppy out or making sure it’s fed.”
“Honey, you’ve seen the way she takes care of her dolls – can you imagine being alive and having your arms tugged on or being carried around by your hair?”
“But we can teach her about things like that, plus I don’t think a dog would take that very long. She’d understand to stop if the puppy started to cry.”
“Still, it sounds like we’re going to have most of the responsibility, and if that’s the case, why don’t we just make her a little brother or sister.”
That’s when my internal siren went off. Loud as it was, though, it didn’t drown out her response. “Tell you what, if you want to carry around a 10-point kicking weight in stomach and throw up every morning for 270 days, then you can be flippant about “making” kids. Otherwise, mister, I suggest you forget about the notion about any part of that process for a long time.”
As she turned her back to me, I realized two things. First, my wife would be receiving a dozen red roses tomorrow with a card that read, “For everything you’ve done in and out of labor, I’ll always love you. I’m sorry, Me.” Second, we were getting a puppy.
Actually, it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. Yes, it came to be that I picked up a good bit of “cute” from the yard, and Joy did learn a lot about how to treat an animal. As bad as things got, though (and with puppies it gets pretty bad), it turned out to be worth it.
Sue forgave me for what I’d said, and for being so against getting a doggy. A few years later, we had our second daughter, Marie Rose. Our family welcomed her with open arms (and open paws). It didn’t take long, though, for her to come home from a party and say the one word I had dreaded since we got the dog


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