I’ve always been a dog person, unabashed, and proud of it. From the time my first Lhasa bit me at eight years old, then snuggled into my arm before pooping in my shoe, it was all over. I’m helpless.
Cats were a creature I had to work at liking. We never had one growing up; in fact, until veterinary school, I never lived with one. Now that I have Apollo and have come to appreciate their unique characteristics, I can’t imagine my life without one. I wouldn’t quite say I’m a cat lady, but I do like them quite a bit.
Kids, on the other hand, have always been an enigma to me. As a teenager, I babysat for lack of better alternatives for employment, my mother (correctly) assuming that there is no better deterrent to teenage motherhood than actually having to be around young children for extended periods of time. As I got older and my friends started having children, I was the one who sat frozen at showers, holding a newborn at arms’ length with my face frozen in a rictus, wondering what I was supposed to do with it and how long I had to hold it before I could give it back.
Then I went ahead and had children. Oh, how much I’ve learned. With time and deeper understanding over eight years of being immersed in children, I can now say with confidence this: I still don’t get kids.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my children. They are amazing and I am glad every day that I have them. That being said, I’m not particularly good with them. I do what I can, and I think I’m doing OK until I look across the room at Mrs. Sunny McMommerton with her 5 layer organic bento and her cheery application of 5 various scented versions of hand sanitizer and I realize, wow, I’m flat out mediocre at this parenting thing. I’m no closer to understanding the inner workings of a Kid Person any more than, say, Mustang Guys, or Parrot People. I am standing in the circle and looking around and still not sure what it is I’m looking at.
I volunteered quite extensively in my daughter’s classroom in kindergarten, out of a sense of obligation more than the deep sense of satisfaction obtained from explaining to five year olds why paste ingestion is not a good idea. I took on the much-ballyhooed role of “Room Mom” in my son’s classroom last year, which was even worse because then I had to navigate not only the political manueverings of the PTA Halloween carnival booth assignments, but I had to keep track of who was gluten intolerant versus peanut intolerant versus matchstick intolerant for holiday parties.
Oh, yes, the Matchbox Incident, as we call it in this house. That was the last straw. This year, we’re in a very different and much improved school, but I’m not in the classroom much at all. While I regret not having more time to be immersed in the educational system, I can’t say I miss it, because then I would be a liar and I feel the need to be deeply honest with you all.
I had to go to Babies R Us yesterday to pick up a gift. While many friends of mine wax nostalgic at the big purple sign, sighing at the “Expectant Mommy” parking and wondering about just one more, I walk through the front door, see the rows of strollers and watermelon-bellied women wrestling carseats into minivans, and all I feel in my stomach is the gnawing lump of anxiety at the thought of going through that all over again. Sure, I smile at other people’s babies and I even know the right way to hold them now, but I look at them with the mildly interested civility one would normally show in mixed company. I’m not anti-child, I just don’t rush over to be first in line to tickle one or anything.
After that trip, I went to the hair salon. As we were finishing up, one of the stylists came in with a new puppy. I sensed it before I saw it, the certainty that something adorable and sweet has just entered the building. I stood up, knocking three people out of the way in the process, and levitated like one of those Twilight vampire things straight to the little furry moppet with a huge giant “SQUEEEEEEEE OMG I’M A VET LET ME HOLD HER AIEEEEE!”
As I unthinkingly commandeered the puppy for snorgles, my brain obligated by sheer instinct to place hands on fur, it hit me- Oh, so this is what it’s like for those baby feet squeezers. It all seems so clear when you see it from the outside. I guess you either have it or you don’t.
So I’m not going to worry about whatever little chips I may or may not be missing; for whatever reason my maternal chip was implanted with a dog face on it, and that’s OK.
So yes, that is it in a nutshell. I am a dog person. How about you?