Saturday, June 28, 2008

Puddle Jumping Dog Pee and Other Early Morning Rituals

There is nothing like rising at 6:00 am and heading bleary-eyed towards the bathroom, stepping in a cold puddle of dog pee, and then releasing a stream of early morning obscenities with which to greet the day. That is how today began. With my feet dried off, I then looked forward to what has become my early morning writing routine - sneaking into the kitchen in the dim light to put a kettle of water on to boil for some Earl Gray, English Breakfast, or this morning, Jasmine tea, which I serve myself out of my very adorable personal-sized teapot. However, there was no sneaking around this morning. I had thought I was sneaking but then heard a small grunting noise and turned around to see that Joel and Jules were each occupying a chair. They sat motionless in the shadows. It was creepy. They didn't look entirely awake, but they definitely weren't asleep. I couldn't tell if they could see me, or not. They appeared to be looking through me. Neither spoke. So I did.

"What are you guys doing up?"

"Up where?"

I tried again, being more specific. "Why are you awake and sitting here waiting to ruin my early morning writing solitude after I recovered so nicely from the dog pee incident? I was doing so well! I did what that Buddhist Monk Guy says to do and forced myself to smile and it worked! It worked! See how I'm smiling? I'm making tea for God's sake!"

To this tirade the boys looked at each other as if they thought they might have heard something, then they shrugged their shoulders, apparently having decided it was nothing.

"WHY ARE YOU HERE?" I asked.

For a moment I thought they were going to launch into something philosophical, as in, "Why are any of us here?" But they didn't. They just sat, with puffy eyes and frantic hair, staring at me. Finally, Joel said, "The dog woke us up. We put him out to pee. Now we're waiting for cartoons to start. There's nothing on but that lady doing yoga."

"Hmmm..." I said. "Next time you put the dog out to pee could you please do it before the dog pees outside my bedroom door? And could you please act like you're not here? This is my morning writing routine and I cherish it and now you are sitting here looking at me."

Since they were already acting like they weren't there, and in fact, weren't entirely sure where they were, that part was easy. But the writing part was hard. I was thrown off balance. They had frightened away my muse. My positive energy had disappeared. I was convinced it was going to be discovered that much of my early morning writing routine consists of me staring out the window. Darn. I hate it when people see me in my natural habitat. I prefer they see me in my self-created habitat used for display purposes only. Isn't that how most of us live our public lives? And by public, I mean anytime we're not alone. We display ourselves in the way we wish to be seen. Even with our children. I didn't want the boys to see me sitting without doing anything, which is for me, about 80% of the writing process. Why don't I want to be seen sitting without doing anything? Why can't I give myself permission to sit for just a few minutes at a time? (Don't expect me to answer this. I am the one posing the question). I realize that much of my over-eating is a direct result of this. I don't feel that I can sit and read, or sit and stare off into space, or just sit and be present, because then I feel like I am wasting time. So I sit and eat. Eating gives me an excuse to sit and think or be.

How can I give myself permission to sit? There are clothes in the washer that need to go in the dryer, clothes in the dryer that need to go in the basket, clothes in the basket that need folding, folded clothes on the couch that need putting away, dirty clothes all over the house (I almost said hamper but that would be a stretch of the truth) waiting to go in the washer....there are dishes in the sink and dishes in the dishwasher. There is unsorted mail on the bar. There are children who need mothering. There are pets that need feeding, and a garden that needs calls that need returning and bathrooms that need cleaning. So how can I allow myself to sit down? Any suggestions in the form of comments would be greatly appreciated.

Anyway, so I didn't work on my manuscript this morning. Between the two zombies sitting in my midst and the dog throwing himself against the front door to get back inside and pee in front of my bedroom door (his favorite spot), I just couldn't focus. But I have some things to think about, don't I?

Let's talk about the dog. His name is Ranger. He is the surviving cow dog puppy whose sister was killed in a coyote ambush. He is still very traumatized by the attack and seems sad and depressed. Our hearts break for him and we spend much of our time trying to cheer him up. He is adorable and very calm. I keep commenting to Jeff about how calm and sweet-natured he is and Jeff keeps commenting on the dog's apparent lack of intelligence. I must admit that I, too, have noticed he seems a little slow. First of all, he chases his tail. He is perpetually thrilled with this discovery of an appendage hanging off his backside. He also has the irritating habit of peeing when he gets excited. Exciting Ranger entails saying, "Hi, Ranger."

I am not used to dumb dogs. We also have a bilingual dog named Schnitzel. She is fluent in English and Wiener Dog. When she first decided to alter her lifestyle and become an indoor dog, we met to discuss the possibilities. When it came to urination I simply explained to her that she needed to go outside when nature called. She allowed as how this was an entirely reasonable request and asked if it would be okay for her to occasionally use the shower drain if she found herself in a pinch. I answered that would be okay but to not to make it a habit. We shook on the deal and that was the end of the story.

Talking to Ranger has not worked. And I am not good at training dogs (or kids). In fact, I don't believe in training kids, trusting that they are at least as smart as Schnitzel and can train themselves. So far this has worked out well. I don't have a single child in diapers. I don't have a single child still nursing. And we did it without training. At some point they all just looked at their diapers and said, "This is rather disgusting. I think I'll try going in the potty now so that I don't have to walk around wearing my own poop."

So this training thing is a new concept for me. I have tried attachment parenting Ranger but he just pees on me. I am unwilling to wear him in a Moby Wrap under these circumstances. I have been told to put him in a crate at night. We're going to try that. If it works, I might just have to alter my entire parenting/living philosophy. The zombie boys often roam around freely throughout the night, sometimes waking the rest of us up. Could it be that it isn't too late to crib-train them? They are 10 and 13. What do you think?

Enjoy your Weekend!
Sardine Mama


  1. in case you were wondering who in SA was reading your blog all day & all night & this morning... it was me. i left it open this entire time ready for me to read when i had a chance. i just finished... i'm SO SURE you were asking everyone - "WHO IS THIS PERSON WHO KEEPS READING MY BLOG!!!" i'm sure it was annoying... :)

  2. It made me feel great! You know that whenever I get on and see that "nobody has visited your blog in the last 20 minutes" message, I get all sad and lonely :(
    Thanks for reading! It hasn't been too interesting, lately.

  3. Hiya, Mama. Long time no see. Your Ranger boy has a submissive peeing problem? Our terrier has that, too. We solve it mostly by ignoring her until she calms down. If we put her on the spot, give attention when she is excited or scold her, she pees. It is her way of saying, "I bow to you I am not worthy!" Good luck!

  4. Yeah, well it gets old, you know? Everywhere I look someone is bowing to me and saying they are not worthy. Enough already! It turns me off.