The puppy, Archer, kept himself mellow on this Saturday. He is most likely hungover from a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday of raiding the kitchen garbage for poop-filled Pull Ups. He shreds them and spreads their gel out onto the linoleum while licking fecal matter up like its chocolate frosting on a plastic cake. I do not understand this craving for poop. Certainly, it can’t be because it tastes good.
I keep a small bungee cord around the handles of the cupboard under the sink to secure our garbage from this furry pirate. Unwrapping the bungee to toss away an eggshell is a pain my arse, so I leave the bungee cord off when I’m working nearby. And then I forget to put it back on.
Our sixty-pound pup can sniff out my inconsistencies like any smart child.
He leaves the kitchen and sits by me on the living room carpet with a smile and a pant that reeks of sewage. I know then I have failed. I psyche myself up for the mess of silica and coffee grounds and wet spaghetti. I enter the kitchen and scream profanities, knowing cuss words will not change anything, but it feels good to say them, damn it.
Besides my hound, I live with a clever toddler, Reece, who also keeps her hands and mouth and feet busy. This kid should be learning tap and smacking mats in gymnastics. She should be under the care of an artist in Community Ed’s Watch Me Draw class. She is a kinesthetic learner–squeezing the grapes rather than eating them, drawing spirals on her tummy instead of paper, climbing up the furniture instead of sitting on it. She will stand on top of puppy’s kennel and yell, “Cannonball!” and jump onto the couch.
She has to feel the fabric. Pat the spilled water. Eat the snow. She is creative and curious. But I am running behind her, losing the race, as I scrape the stickers from the windows and the toothpaste painting from the mirror.
“I love you, Mom,” Reece says with a hug around my waist. This often after I have screamed at her for the hundredth time to quit stealing my black eye liner and applying it to her lips. She is the only one of my three daughters who learned to say “I love you” at such an early age. She knows her words and hugs slow down the rant; that I will hug her back and love her up.
When I’m out shoveling snow, Archer likes to chase the shovel. He tries to pick up the shovel with his mouth and his paws. He make a whimper that sounds like desperation. It is as if he wants to steal the shovel from me, yet his paws don’t work the way he wants them to. He tries and tries again. I fill the shovel and shake the fluffy stuff over his head. He grimaces. He shakes it away from his fur. He waits to see what’s next.
I like watching him play in the snow. I like how he runs across the yard, simultaneously scooping snow into his mouth. He dances back and forth, teasing me as I reach down to unhook him from the tie-out cable that keeps him in our yard. He’s very good at making a quick get away. He’s cute–the first three times–the way he prances on his front two paws. Then, I’m too cold and get back to the business of bringing him inside.
I am constantly on call, constantly listening for the sounds of their busy little minds and bodies doing something that will require clean up. So, on a Saturday, when the pooch sits by the back entryway, resting and not moving, and when the toddler falls asleep on the couch, I will cork the champagne and sip in the silence.