Thursday, December 30, 2010
“Daddy, something real bad happened,” my 6-year-old said when I picked him up from school last Thursday.
Like any other dad, I responded with, “What’d you do wrong?” I was fuming even though I hadn’t heard the news yet.
“It’s not me, Daddy,” he said. “It’s Jessica -- her dog ran away. And I’m so sorry for her.” You’d think my son had a dog that ran away. He was so emotional, very sad for Jessica.
“Oh, OK,” I said. “I hope she finds it.” And I went on with business as usual. Maybe I wasn’t sympathetic, but I must admit, I was just relieved my kid didn’t get into any trouble.
My son wanted compassion and he was going to get it. So he went to Mommy.
“Mommy, something real bad happened,” he said when my wife got home.
Like any other mom, she responded with, “Oh my God, what happened? Where does it hurt?” She was hysterical even though she could see our son was perfectly fine.
“No, Mommy,” he said. “It’s Jessica -- her dog ran away. And I’m so sorry for her.” You’d think my wife had a Coach purse that ran away. She was more emotional than our son, very sad for Jessica.
A few days later, our son announced better news -- Jessica’s dog evidently came home. My wife and kid were relieved. A high heel to my shin reminded me that I was relieved, too.
So the dog situation was over. And then came yesterday. My wife and I bumped into Jessica’s parents and my wife asked how their dog was doing back home.
“Dog?” they said. “We don’t have a dog.”
“But our son said Jessica told him her dog ran away.”
“She told us the same thing,” said Jessica’s mom. “She has an imaginary dog.”
My wife actually asked if they were sure they didn’t have a dog.
Jessica’s mom said she was sure. She continued: “Jessica came up with the whole dog thing to prove she’d make a great dog owner. She made ‘Missing’ signs when her dog went missing and we had to post them up all over town. We were afraid someone would actually bring us a stray dog.”
My wife and I didn’t have the hearts to tell our son that Jessica’s “missing” dog wasn’t real -- our boy was so attached to that dog.
“I saw you talking to Jessica’s parents,” our son said to us. “Did you ask about Jessica’s dog?”
“We did,” my wife said.
“Jessica is sure a great dog owner, don’t you think?” he asked us.
“Yes, she is,” my wife said.
“She was so worried about her dog, just like I was so worried . . . I could be a great dog owner, too, don’t you think? But I know you won’t let me have a dog, even though I’d love to have one.”
That’s when my wife and I discovered the plot these two 6-year-olds masterminded together. We don’t know if Jessica’s parents caved and bought their child a dog, but we sure weren’t going to give in to our child -- at least I wouldn’t without a fight.
“Dogs are a lot of work,” I said. “Are you willing to walk a dog every morning and every night?”
“Yeah,” the boy said.
“Are you willing to feed him all his meals?”
“Are you willing to clean up after him?”
All I needed was one no. “Are you willing to quiet him down in the middle of the night when he’s barking? Can you guarantee I won’t find one dog hair on my clothes or on the furniture? Are you gonna pay for all the medical bills associated with his health?”
“Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.”
“OK,” my wife said to him. “You can have a dog.”
“What?” my son said, pleasantly surprised.
“What?” I said surprised in a different way.
Since then, our son has been walking his brand-new imaginary dog around the house nonstop.