Lucky thing I know my son loves me. Lucky thing I’m secure in that. Because he might make me think otherwise.
It was a few years ago and we were on a New England college tour for my daughter. We stayed with friends outside of Boston and they had a dog. My son fell in love with the dog. Hard, fast, deep love.
My husband has wanted to get a family dog for years. I have been the naysayer – the one who killed all plans, all ideas, and even all discussions. I have enough to take care of already, I always reasoned, with the house, two kids, and a business. And seeing as my office is in my home, I knew that push come to shove, I would be the one who ended up taking care of the dog. And I’m not a dog person, never have been and probably never will be.
“We can get a dog,” I always offered, “as soon as someone else promises that they’ll take care of the dog.” At which point my husband would quickly volunteer, and I’d quickly laugh. “You’re never home,” I’d counter. “How can you be responsible for a dog? You’ll travel for work and I’ll have to deal with it.”
But my son fell in love with our friend’s dog, and then he wanted a dog. He wanted one badly. He sat in the back seat of the car, as we drove on to our next college tour, trying hard to convince me, to sway me from my steadfast position – even begging me to get him a dog.
I refused and refused and refused, offering my timeworn reasons and explanations, apologizing to him but still saying “No.” There was a pause and I thought I’d won the battle, but then he piped up with his final solution. “I know, Daddy,” he said. “I know. Divorce Mommy, and then we can get a dog.”
I’m lucky I know my son loves me. I’m lucky I know my son. He is and has always been a “man of the moment.” He lives in the moment he’s in – not able to plan for the future or remember the past. He nearly always wants to stay right where he is, doing just what he’s doing (especially these days if he’s in front of the family computer playing Minecraft). Clearly, in his mind, he wanted a dog and he therefore was willing to rid us of any obstacles in the way of his goal. Even if one of those obstacles was me.
I’ll admit that I try to shape him a bit. I try to help him realize that there might be reasons to step away from his moment to move onto the next (like when he was young and we had to drag him kicking and screaming to the beach, or the zoo, or apple picking, or his grandparent’s house, or anything). And there are times when I try to help him remember the past, so that he can use good memories and positive outcomes to move him through times when he’s stuck in something not so good.
But I also want to respect his ability, and desire, to stay in the moment. I spend a great deal of my own energy and effort these days to learn how to stay in the moment. To learn how to be happy with whatever I have right here, right now, instead of pining for something new, better, different, or more. So I want to respect his “gift” and mimic his approach, so that I can do it too. I’ve taught my daughter to consciously be aware of and stay right where she is in each moment, so much so that one of my little notes from my daughter offers this quote from Calvin and Hobbes – “We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.” I have a great teacher in my son, and I can learn to strengthen my “Be Here Now” muscle from watching him, and allowing him his pace and perspective.
But I am also lucky that I know he loves me, no matter what he says. And we’re still not getting a dog.
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