Someone Needs to Walk the Dog

John’s comment on my last post, about not wanting to have to care for a dog, set me up nicely for this post. (Thanks, John!)

In my house, nothing clears a room faster than when I say, “Someone needs to walk the dog.” I could yell, “Fire!” and my children wouldn’t budge from in front of the TV/computer unless actual smoke and flames obstructed their view. However, when I yell, “Someone needs to walk the dog,” they scatter like shrapnel after the big blast.

Of course I track them down, and then the bargaining begins. It typically goes something like this:
“If you walk the dog, I’ll set the table.”
“You have to wipe it, too. And clear.”
“I’ll wipe. You clear.”
“I don’t know. My foot hurts. Besides, I walked the dog yesterday, in the rain. I got soaked.”
“Well the last time I walked the dog it was dark. And I had to pick up his poop. (A Marcus family requirement.)
“Last Thursday I walked him twice and he pooped both times.”
“On Friday he almost broke my finger when he ran after a squirrel.”
Me: “Dinner’s getting cold. Someone needs to walk him.”
“What about Becca?” (My oldest daughter. 18. Enough said.) “She never has to walk the dog.”
“If you can get her to do it, fine. Daddy and I are going to start eating without you.”
“Walk the dog,” my son yells, because he’s 16 and exists in a constant state of hunger.
“No. You do it,” my youngest daughter counters, because she’s 12 and likes to argue.
Me: “If I have to get up there will be consequences.”
“Fine,” my youngest daughter says, stomping off to get the leash. “But if my foot gets any worse I won’t be able to participate in gym, and I’ll get a bad grade, and it will be all your fault.” (My fault. Not my son’s.)
Me: “It’s a risk I’m willing to take. Put on a jacket.” (She doesn’t.)

I’d like to point out that while my children think it’s perfectly acceptable to lally-gag and or negotiate when I ask for something to be done, the same does not apply for them. So when my son needs new turf shoes for the indoor soccer tournament the next day I’m expected to hop in the car, pronto, so he can drive me to Dick’s Sporting Goods. And when my daughter wants the new rubber animal bracelets that everyone at school has, I’m expected to swing by the dollar store, regardless of whatever else I had planned, pass her some cash, then sit in the car (while the groceries melt in the back) and act like I don’t know her. (Unless she sees someone she’s wants to avoid, in which case I am allowed to exit the vehicle to purchase the bracelets for her.)

I know people survive this parenting thing, but it amazes me how most manage to do it without developing a noticible twitch, or suffering a debilitating mental collapse, or winding up in prison.

I guess I manage like most other good parents, with a sense of humor! (Usually after the fact!)

For those of you with grown children, did you survive unscathed? For those parents still in the trenches, do you blame your gray hairs on your children? Or do you visit the salon? For those of you not yet blessed with children, please disregard this post!

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  • Dale
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 7:52 PM | Permalink

    Wendy, your post was entertaining for me (childless), but I'm sure you have many a day when the bargaining/filibustering seems endless. Knowing your children, I think you did a fine job characterizing their banter.

    It's a good thing Buddy has a strong bladder!!!

  • Regina Richards
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 7:54 PM | Permalink

    I'd just taken a break from trying to marshall the forces (read teens) to pick up the house. I'm definitely developing that parent-twitch of which you speak. Possibly ulcers as well.

    Very entertaining post!

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 9:16 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for visiting, Dale. And yes…Buddy does have a strong bladder. My husband usually walks him in the morning. He's away, and on Friday I got involved in my usual morning routine and forgot I was supposed to walk the dog. I didn't realize my error until 11:30 a.m.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted April 10, 2010 at 9:25 PM | Permalink

    Sorry for your trouble, Regina. I completely forgot to mention my daily dose of Tums! Parental ulcers are a serious concern!!! I think the risk increases exponentially with each additional child.

  • John Baron
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 12:27 AM | Permalink

    Each additional child seems to more than double the challenge. My wife and I decided to quit while we were ahead — with just one child, and that was challenging enough. I use to think that with one child, we'd be a family: the three of us. With two or more children it often becomes an "us" and "them" situation. Not always, of course. And I know single children who didn't turn out so great.

    On the other hand, I couldn't help but notice that Buddy is the center of the storm here — not a cat…. Hmmmm

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:57 AM | Permalink

    Yes, John. Buddy happens to be the center of the incident I wrote about. But the truth of the matter is, my children could argue about air….and come to think of it they do…like every time my daughter uses scented hand lotion and my son gags when she enters the room. So she waves her hands in his face and he pushes her…at which time I get involved because I have a real problem with boys pushing girls (even when they deserve it). Then my son declares, "She's not a girl, she's a sister! And if she doesn't want to get pushed, she shouldn't wave her smelly hands in my face when she knows I don't like it." How do you respond to that?

    Having three seems to shift the balance of power at times, but ultimately I'm in charge(at least in my mind). If I didn't want to go to Dicks Sporting Goods or to the dollar store, I wouldn't. And as much as I may get frustrated, I have three wonderful children, and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

  • John Baron
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 3:21 AM | Permalink

    Oh, I know. I was just putting in a plug for the Zen of catness. They say dogs have owners; cats have staff. Children have neither. They only have parents, and you don't have to get a license (or be perfect) to parent.

    I also know all about instigation and argument. I grew up with 5 brothers, and each one of us could argue a lawyer out of his shoes. We paired-off and argued with our pair-brothers mostly, just so we could keep track of who was annoying who. Somehow we all survived. So did our parents. You will too. Fight the good fight.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 12:15 AM | Permalink

    5 Brothers! WOW! I can't even begin to imagine…..

  • Bethanne
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 1:36 AM | Permalink

    Oh, the sounds of family…and so familiar! I have three sisters. Now, I have four kids–none quite up in years as yours, but the ring is still the same. 😀

    Hey, guess what? as long as we're talking about family….
    I have another one on the way!!!
    Whoot! and also, Aaaack!
    HAve a great week.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 1:41 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for stopping by, Bethanne. With four children and a writing career, how do you find the time? And one on the way? I don't know whether to congratulate you or pray for you. How about I do both?!?!

  • Terri
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 6:14 PM | Permalink

    Very funny blog post.

    Unfortunate juxtaposition here, though:

    "If you walk the dog, I'll set the table."
    "You have to wipe it, too. And clear."
    "I'll wipe. You clear."

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 7:05 PM | Permalink

    I don't think they taught juxtaposition when I went to school. Maybe I missed that day. In the past when I heard the word, I thought it had to do with erotica…the man arches and lifts his….and the woman twists until….and then they… know….in the juxtaposition!

  • Terri
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 7:50 PM | Permalink

    Yep. Okay. I think that must be in the Kama Sutra somewhere.

    Maybe the howler wasn't so much the juxtapositioning as the "it." I didn't translate "it" immediately as "table." My whacky brain right skipped over to "dog."

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 7:55 PM | Permalink

    Oh, yes. Now I see it. And I can do without that visual! Thanks, Terri!

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