the smell of my desperation has become a stench

The secret to our clean floors

Coco still sleeps in a crate next to our bed, and up until we caught on to the fact that she was manipulating us we would let her out in the morning at the sound of her first cry thinking that she desperately needed to go wee. But when we clumsily made it to the back door and suffered the cold morning air on our bare legs, she would casually step outside, wander along the perimeter of the patio, leisurely stretch her legs and then lie down. Like, oh, I’m sorry, were you in the middle of something? Because I just wanted to get a head start on being an asshole.

Now we just tell her to shut it when she starts crying, either by yelling those very words or by blurting out whatever noise comes out of our sleepy throats. Sometimes it’s TSHHH! or PIHHHH! or SO HELP ME GOD. And it works, she goes back to sleep until Leta marches in, and then it’s over, do not expect her to remain silent inside that crate, not when there is a child around to keep track of. You can’t do that to a herding dog, dangle a child in front of it and suggest that said child be ignored. Do you have any idea what could go wrong? Sure, there are wolves and flash floods and diphtheria to worry about, but worst case scenario is that this child decides to go to the bathroom AND NO ONE IS COUNTING. How will we ever know how many people are left in the room?

Once everyone is awake we all go upstairs to have breakfast together, and eventually Coco ends up underneath Leta’s chair. This is the place where treats rain from the sky, and the silence with which she assumes her position there suggests that she’s hoping no one else will catch on to her secret. Because if Chuck discovered the magical supply of Cheerios she’d have to share her bounty. What she doesn’t know is that Chuck is well aware of the frequent treat storms that emanate from Leta’s chair, he just knows that her diet is so limited that it’s not worth the wait to sit there for a stray refried bean. It’s not like FILET MIGNON is ever going to come flying off that counter.

Earlier this week both dogs were completely wiped out from having spent eight days at a kennel, so wiped out in fact that Coco didn’t even hear Leta stomp into our bedroom. She even slept through the commotion of me leading Leta upstairs to have breakfast. I left Jon to sleep in a few extra minutes and assumed he’d let Coco out of the crate when he woke up. Thirty minutes later Coco dashed up the stairs, totally frazzled, a thought bubble exploding out of her head that said OHMIGOD OHMIGOD OHMIGOD. Instead of running in to greet me like she normally would, she immediately slid seven feet from the doorway of the kitchen right into her spot underneath Leta’s chair. Only then did she look up to see if Leta was still there. And when Coco saw that she was, saw Leta eagerly spooning mouthfuls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch out of her bowl, I swear to God that dog sighed, like I CAN’T BELIEVE I ALMOST SLEPT THROUGH THE BEST PART OF THE DAY.

I kneeled down, scratched her underneath her chin, pointed to my belly and said DUDE, HAVE I GOT A PRESENT FOR YOU.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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