Kids are full of surprises. Our inspiration for getting a dog came from Baxter, who is a big-time dog lover and has been for years. Dogs and toddlers: Baxter’s two loves. But somehow, although he loves Gus and cuddles with him whenever he gets a chance, he hasn’t bonded with him as much as one might expect. Perhaps it is because Gus is hopelessly devoted to me and this bums Baxter out; he calls the dog to him and the dog just looks at him and runs after me. I try to invite Baxter to come snuggle with us and take him for walks, but it’s probably not what Baxter dreamed of. I understand that and I think it’ll come in time.
On the other hand, Lyle – who could take or leave other people’s dogs for the most part and expressed some ambivalence about getting a dog, saying, “I’ll be jealous of the attention you’ll give the dog!” – has bonded more firmly with Gus in the first month than I’d ever thought possible. He plays with him, offers to feed him, and when looking for things to do will spend quite a bit of time training the dog. Surprisingly, he’s good at the training. At age 5 he commands the dog’s full attention and gets him to do everything we do. It’s uncanny.
This evening, just before bedtime, Lyle came into the kitchen in his pajamas and asked if he could take the dog out to pee. I loved that he remembered I always do that before I leave Gus for a while to put the kids to bed. I agreed that we could do that together, so he threw on some flip flops with his winter snowman pajamas on this warm spring night, and out we went.
It’s a good reminder that we truly don’t know who our kids are until we see them actually move through life, encountering new experiences as they go. Surprises can be very, very good.