Tag Archive | family

Christmas Bonding Time (or a Kick in the Head)

In years past, I’ve held solitary gift wrapping marathons on Christmas Eve night when everyone else is asleep. Surrounded by wrapping paper, cats, a dog, and drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate, coffee, or Baileys (depending on my mood), while quietly listening to Christmas tunes, I would wrap and wrap and wrap like I was a demented cute little elf applying for the Head Elf job at Santa’s North Pole.

Well this year, since the kids are older and sneaking peeks into presents is no longer an issue (I think…), and the whole “Santa secret” has long been out of the bag, and more importantly, I suddenly found myself with some spare time…a unique dilemma I don’t often face, I decided to wrap presents a little early. It goes without saying that it was still somewhat of a chaotic undertaking.

My 23-year old son joined me for this manic tradition. Jake was impressed with my mad gift wrapping skills….I mean, my corners on those presents are tight!

Thinking I was clever, I mentioned his age and then bragged to him that of course I’m good at it because I’ve been enjoying this Christmas custom for at least 23 years. It took about 10 seconds for those words to leave my mouth before it hit me. I’ve been doing this for 23 years. And just like that…. I’m old. Damn.

 

wrapping presents

Guilty Feelings

This is a Cracked graphic after all, so I’m not sure how serious it’s meant to be.  All I know is, serious or not, it’s complete malarkey, to put it nicely.  I read another article recently, this one on the more serious side, that stated dogs don’t feel and/or show guilt.  I had an animal behaviorist friend years ago tell me that as well.  Pfft.  Please.

I’ve had dogs all of my life and every one of them had a wide range of emotions, guilt and knowledge of wrong doing being strong among those states of mind. Every. Single. One.  I’m sure other dog owners would agree.

Right now I have two dogs and two cats. The cats I’ll get to in a minute. As for the dogs – if one of them does something wrong, even when I’m not around, I know it immediately upon my return. They give themselves up by their behavior alone. It could be minutes after the actual event, it could be hours. But they know whatever rule they broke in my absence is going to get them “the look” no one likes or get them the disappointed “talking to” they like even less. Even the non-offender knows a rule was broken and keeps away from the rule-breaker in case any guilt by association should rub off. Even the dimmest bulb in the pack is self-aware.

Normally, I’m greeted at the door as if I’ve been gone on safari for two months and everyone was concerned as to where their next meal or snuggle was coming from and they’re just terribly thankful I somehow found my way home to them to take care of their every need.  This is on a good day. Which is most days. But on the off day that I come home to a mutilated treat bag or a mess left for me that I’d rather not have left for me, one dog is simply gone, which she never is. She’s nothing if not underfoot. Until someone, whether it’s her or another, has done a dastardly deed. Then she’s under the bed. She’s under the covers. She’s under anything in order to hide away from any association whatsoever with said mess. The other one, while he stays out to greet me because, well, because he loves me and can’t help himself, he’s not his normal bouncy self.  You see, he’s a tattler.  Even if it’s on himself.  He lets me know a mess has been made, where it is, and if he could talk, I have no doubt he’d spill the beans on just who made it.

So, yeah.  Dogs have memory (duh). They have guilt. They know what’s right and wrong in their own little sphere of reality.

As for cats.  Not so much.  Oh, they have memory. They know what’s right and wrong in their own little sphere of reality.  They just don’t care.  And that would be because they’re jerks. Now, my cats have rules, just like the dogs do and I started training them early. For instance, they’re not allowed on the counters or the tables. They follow this rule religiously…well one does anyway. The other does when I’m around. But I’m not naïve enough to believe the ne’er-do-well follows it when I’m not around. I’m not an idiot. I know my cats. Did I mention they’re jerks? They’re also not overly bright. Which is good for me. For instance, the worst behaved of the two, Holly (aka the ne’er-do-well, aka the evil one), doesn’t realize that sound travels. So while I might not see her on the counter, I certainly hear her jump down as she notices I’m walking into the room (because she is smart enough to know not to be caught red-pawed in the “no cat zone”). But does almost getting caught bother her at all? Nope. She saunters off like nothing happened without a care in the world.

Holly (again with Holly) also likes freeze-dried dog treats. If I have a dim moment and leave them out on the counter instead of putting them away, she will steal them and tear into the bag and eat them all.  Or at least try. Sometimes she fails if the force field of plastic is very strong. Sometimes the treats just end up smooshed to powder thanks to her destructive tendencies. When caught it’s because, again, sound travels, and since the house is small it’s easily determined that someone is desperately trying to break into a bag of treats. Does she care? No. She’s not on the counter now. Now she’s on the floor. So in her mind no rules are being broken. The bag of treats is irrelevant. And really, she simply cannot be bothered with feeling badly about her behavior.  So she just gets up and slowly walks away in a very condescending way. That’s called being a jerk. I think I mentioned that before.  This is the same cat that steals my spot on the bed whenever I get up.  Even though she’s not supposed to be in my spot or touch my things, like my table. Oh, she immediately gets up when I return, and goes back to her designated area of the bed…but with nary a guilt-ridden or remorseful look backwards.

Life with my pets in some ways mirrors having raised my kids. There are way more bodily functions than I have ever wanted to contend with in my lifetime. Attitudes are similar. And I’m constantly trying to figure out who the hell did what with about as much success.

 

dogs' memory

Free to Good Home

While I understand the importance of Mom & Pop stores and relish the experience of finding a hidden gem in the aisles of an old, cramped market with squeaky wooden floors, I must admit that I am often very grateful that shopping can be so easy thanks to the Internet. It’s such a vast and comprehensive shopping resource these days that it’s possible to find just about anything you can think up. Gold-plated staplers. A singing salmon in the likeness of Sammy Davis, Jr. A box of 10,000 fish oil pills. Just type in whatever your mind can think up and sure enough somebody, somewhere out there has got one to sell to you.

When I say “whatever,” I used to put in automatic caveats. There’s certain things you simply can’t browse for online. No, I’m not talking about illegal stuff like drugs and guns. I have heard about the so-called “Dark Web” and although I have no clue how to find it (nor do I even want to) I am not naïve enough to think that dangerous goods can’t also be found with just a few easy clicks of the mouse.

I used to think that people, aka human beings, were one of those resources that the Internet would stay away from out of some sort of moral stance. Then online dating began. Then Russian Brides became a thing. Then Asian Brides Online. Then Oksana Love. The list of buy-a-bride sites goes on and on and covers virtually every country.

OK, I thought, so you can purchase a spouse online. Surely that’s as far as even the Internet dares to go. Children have to be off-limits. Oh, how wrong I was. Check out this link.

Yes, this is a real Facebook group where pictures of children up for adoption are posted (often with the word AVAILABLE in all caps at the start of the post). These are not just children up for a “regular” adoption mind you. These are children who have been adopted and their current parents want to re-home them because they are no longer wanted for whatever reason. Yes. You read that right.  Re-homing children.

Have we really turned into such a disposable society? It’s bad enough that animals are euthanized by the millions in shelters, but now we have kids being plastered up on Facebook walls like products that are on sale at your local Best Buy.  Or more like Craigslist. The really sad part is that this group is NOT an uncommon thing.  It’s just one of many public forums that act the same as shelter sites advertising dogs and cats. The only difference is that instead of checking out a 9 month old beagle/poodle mix that was saved from a drug den, you’re perusing pictures of a human child up for sale to see if he or she piques your interest.

You may think I’m exaggerating if you don’t go to the site and look for yourself. I assure you, I’m not. The wording in these ads is strikingly familiar to those you’d find on a dog rescue site, and hit just as close to home for anyone with a caring heart. Loves to play, gets along well with others, no behavioral problems, affectionate, listens. And the implied, or outright declared, reasons excuses for re-homing were no better.  I know I sure got a sense of déjà vu from the excuses running rampant throughout the site.

One boy’s ad states: “We would especially hope that the new family will have one stay at home parent to help him get bonded to your family, although this is not required. His current adoptive parents both work.” This child has apparently been with his family for over a year. He’s four. FOUR. I can only imagine parenting took more of their time than they expected.

Another claims a ten-year old child who has been in his home for over five years “needs more one-on-one attention than is available in his home. He loves sports however his family is not a sports-type family, and his parents are a bit older. So it is believed that a younger, more active home would work better.”  Right.

It breaks my heart that this is the new normal. This is the way our society works if it wants to move a product. Toaster? Car? Six year old girl from a broken home? Put ’em up online. Someone will bite.

Kids certainly are hard work. Trust me, I’ve had two! But that’s why mental health specialists, doctors, and therapists exist if there are behavioral problems.  Which might not even be the case with the kids on this one particular Facebook page…they all seem GREAT given their descriptions…maybe the parents just got overwhelmed with parenting and decided it simply wasn’t for them. Who knows? But to me posting an ad up on freakin’ Facebook to re-home your goddamned kid is a failure on the part of the parent no matter how you look at it, not the child.

I wonder if these kids know they’re being offered up on social media the same way a puppy is. Do they have to go thru visits with prospective families and show off their wares and hope that the next one “sticks?”  A part of me hopes they’re in “ignorance is bliss” camp because otherwise, how utterly devastating for a child this must be.