The first time Leta began sneaking food to Chuck we thought life couldn’t possibly get any cuter. In fact, the first time Leta did many things we thought things were pretty cute, but then she continued to do these things and we quickly realized that what may seem cute the first time can and usually will become annoying and possibly hazardous upon repetition.
Case in point: splashing in the bathtub.
The first time we taught Leta that she could use her arms to create tidal waves in the tub we were still bathing her in the sink. I’d show her how to hit the water and then encourage her to do the same. It seemed so innocent, a tiny baby splashing in the sink, but by the time she had finished splashing there was an inch of standing water on the hardwood floors in the kitchen and both Jon and I were doused from head to toe. It was funny the first time, but then she wanted to splash every time she took a bath, and why not? WE TAUGHT HER THAT IT WAS OKAY.
Final score: Leta: 1, Parents: disqualified for stupidity.
Leta now feeds the dog at every meal. Any finger food we put on the tray of her highchair she immediately gives to the dog. The first few times this happened we could barely breathe we were laughing so hard because she seemed to think that she was the first person on Earth to ever come up with this concept. Every time she slipped the dog a cheddar goldfish she’d almost quiver in pride, like OH MY GOD I AM GENIUS, THE ANIMAL, HE IS EATING FROM MY HAND. And then she’d look at us like, AHHH? AHHH? DO YOU SEE THIS? I HAVE SOMETHING THE ANIMAL WANTS! AND I AM DRUNK! WITH POWER!
We even videotaped it, and now it can be used against us in a court of law.
Now whenever we feed her the house is filled with various versions of the following sentence: this is for you, NOT THE DOG. At first it’s spoken as a straightforward command that anyone with a grasp of basic English should understand. THE DOG EVEN UNDERSTANDS THIS COMMAND, but Leta, all she hears is: IGNORE WHATEVER I’M SAYING RIGHT NOW BECAUSE IT DOES NOT FIT INTO YOUR AGENDA. And so she continues to feed the dog. The command then turns into a plea: Please, Leta, I’m serious, stop feeding the dog. She hears: THE DOG IS HUNGRY. FEED HIM.
By the end of the meal I have taken away all of her remaining finger food and I hand it to her one at a time: one goldfish at a time, one cracker, one carrot. She swiftly brings it to her mouth to pretend that she’s going to eat it and then she hands it directly to the dog. That’s usually when I turn to Jon and say, “You know those people who say that it doesn’t even look like I was in the room when she was conceived? Yeah, I’m starting to believe them.”
Saturday night we attended a dinner party at a friend’s house and because they have a dog the exact color and size of Chuck we brought him along so that he could have a play date. They’ve played before and are a perfect match when it comes to energy levels and desire to terrorize the other until both have passed out from mental exhaustion. This would be perfect, we thought, because we would get to enjoy a social dinner AND exercise the dog simultaneously. Once an annoying, overly-attentive dog owner, ALWAYS an annoying, overly-attentive dog owner.
Things were going moderately well (except for the two-headed dog running at lightning speed around the house knocking into small children and walls) until we sat down for dinner. Our hostess was making corn dogs for the kids, and when she handed one to her three-year-old daughter Chuck happened to be standing in the perfect spot to gulp it out of her hands and swallow it whole. This was horrifying on two levels: 1) My dog could have bitten off a small child’s arm, and 2) the corn dog, it was on a stick.
When we arrived home we did not feed Chuck his usual dinner because a corn dog on a stick was sitting in his stomach waiting to make an exit. I watched him closely for the rest of the night and he seemed perfectly comfortable. This made sense considering what this animal has digested in the past: tampons, toilet paper rolls, q-tips, entire stuffed animals with squeakers, and one iBook power cord. So we all went to bed thinking that we’d see the stick in the morning along with everything else Leta had fed him during the day.
Alas, at 3:18 AM I awoke to the terrible noise of a distressed animal dry-heaving IN MY BEDROOM. I sat straight up and Chuck hobbled around to my side of the bed and gave me this look that said, “Please don’t be mad but I think I’m going to hurl.” Then he ran toward the door indicating that I had about four seconds before corn dog and stick and dog innards would be splashed all over the wood floors.
Without thinking I dashed out of bed and had the back door open before Jon even knew what was going on. Chuck bolted outside to his favorite pee spot, lifted his leg, and I kid you not, he stood there for over 60 seconds holding the perfect yoga position. Then he started circling the yard wildly looking for the right place. I couldn’t see him from where I was standing by the door, so I did the only logical thing: I grabbed a coat and Jon’s totally abominable Man Clogs and headed out into the rain in my panties.
It was the middle of the night, pouring rain, and I stood there in the middle of the backyard dressed in coat, panties, and Man Clogs begging the dog to stop and just get it over with already. I couldn’t tell if he was going to puke or poop because he kept squatting and then leaning over to puke, and I was freezing my barely clad ass off. Suddenly I saw a shadow move across the fence and I turned around to see Jon standing there wearing nothing but a coat, underwear, and flip-flops.
“What are you doing out here in your panties?” He was barely awake.
“What am I doing in my panties? What are you doing in your underwear?”
As Jon approached Chuck finally stopped swirling and looked as if he had achieved equilibrium. Neither one of us saw the stick come out of him, but we were too cold and naked to really care at that point. When we stepped back inside Chuck headed straight for the basement with his usual SEE YOU BITCHES LATER saunter so we knew we could head back to bed without any worries. Lying there shivering and trying to go back to sleep I turned my head toward Jon and said, “You know this is all Leta’s fault. From now on she’s not allowed to do anything cute.”