We’ve been conspiring. We’ve been counting the days. We’ve been having fun messing with our kids’ minds. We call it Project Penguin, our code for bringing home a German Shepherd puppy.
Project Penguin goes into effect on Friday.
In the meantime, we have to keep our game faces on. We have to continue life as usual. We don’t want our kids to get all savvy and figure out the surprise.
So on Monday, when I took the kids to do a little volunteer work at the Humane Society, and when they met a puppy and played with him in the lobby, and when they asked if we could adopt it, I told them the usual speech about how we come to the Humane Society to visit animals not to take them home.
I noticed they asked, but they didn’t beg or prod. They didn’t expect a yes from me. I have squashed any hope they might have about a getting a pet. I have been anti-pet for years. Ah, success!
At home, I quietly told Mike about the puppy and how we should have an argument about it in front of the girls. I would be Good Cop. He would be Bad Cop. He was happy to play.
We ate supper. And then, while the girls and Michael all snuggled on the couch watching TV, I stood in the door of the living room and presented my case. I said, there’s this puppy at that Humane Society. And Michael said, that’s no puppy for me. I said, maybe you should come meet this little black lab mix and see what you think? He said, nah. I don’t like shelter dogs. He went on to badger our daughters about how they haven’t been responsible enough to feed the fish regularly. And who is going to pay for the puppy? And who is going to pick up its poop? And who is going to play with it?
Melisandra, who’s nine, was bewildered. He didn’t ask all these questions when she told us about German Shepherd puppies born at the stable where she went to horse camp. He didn’t ask all these questions when she asked if we could adopt one. What is up, she said. In truth, I was a bit bewildered, too. He sounded stern. He sounded disappointed in their previous actions with the fish, when he really is not. But Melisandra countered her dad with an enthusiastic plan to pick up poop and play and feed. She said, I already do all of that for Auntie’s dog.
Michael didn’t stop there. He took his Bad Cop role seriously. Too seriously. He told Melisandra if she wanted this particular puppy, she needed to complete a list of reasons why—and by Friday.
Here, I think he got caught up in the moment and didn’t consider the repercussions.
I mean, are we going to postpone Project Penguin if she doesn’t write the list? Absolutely not. I’ve purchased the crate and collar. I’ve hired the babysitter. I’ve notified the breeder I will arrive at 4. And besides, Michael is too giddy about getting a puppy himself to wait a second more. So, I’m counting on Melisandra to be a kid and forget this assignment.
Instead, I’m hoping to fill her memories (and her sisters’ memories, too) with the happy surprise of a furry friend.