My daughter’s friends went out of town for a week and hired her to puppy sit their two puppies. They offered to pay her $100.00 and Marin believed she hit the lottery. “Mom. That is SO MUCH MONEY. I can’t believe they are paying me that much. I feel badly taking it.”
“Don’t,” I said. “It would cost them at least three times that much to board them.”
She was shocked.
“You’re going to earn that money,” I said, and she waved me off, convinced that being handed $100.00 to play with puppies for a week was nothing short of thievery.
We are now only a few days into that scandal. The girl who couldn’t do dishes without rubber gloves rolled up to her elbows and gagging because touching the remnants of other people’s food was disgusting was now picking up perpetually refilling piles of puppy poop with resignation. She looked like a single mother of twins.
Last night, nine thirty rolled around and she wanted to go to bed. The puppies, Bruno and Claire, pleased with their new, older friend Lincoln, were yapping and nipping and chasing and generally wreaking havoc in the living room. I never imagined that our own high-energy dog would be behaving like the wise elder statesman, yet here he was. Marin asked me how to calm the trio down. “Ha.” I said. “Ha ha ha ha.”
Bruno and Claire were basically infants. Being rescues, we weren’t sure how old they were, but it wasn’t very old. They were tiny things that still had puppy teeth and weren’t the least bit housetrained. They would sleep when they were tired and wake when they weren’t. They would cry and make noise when they felt like it. Lincoln, I imagined, was basically barking, “Shut up, you stupid little babies! It’s late, and this isn’t a barky house! Unless there are squirrels around. Are there squirrels?” There wasn’t a thing a rational adult (or teenager) could do about it. I remembered the six-month stretch when the desperate girl asking me the question slept fifteen minutes of every hour and cried the other forty-five. I felt a bit of gorgeous revenge. I felt a lot of schadenfreude and no guilt whatsoever. Only a modicum of sympathy.
“They’ll wear themselves out eventually,” I said. “Then they’ll sleep. You sleep when they sleep. That’s the rule.” Then, with the glorious freedom of a woman who has already paid her dues, I skipped off to bed.
I woke early in the morning to the sound of barking and yapping and human cooing, and felt the satisfaction of knowing that, for once, none of the chaos was my responsibility. I’d help, sure, but in my own time.
By the time I got out of bed, showered, dressed, and made it into the living room, the noise had ceased. Marin was curled in the La-Z-Boy with Bruno on her lap, and my husband was on the sofa with Claire and Lincoln. Four out of the five of them were snoring. Everything solid within me melted into goo. If I were diabetic, my sugar would have spiked. These moments, when a warm, small body rests sleeping against you, totally trusting you to keep it safe, make it all worthwhile. That’s why you’re the Alpha. Not because you are bigger or meaner or know how to dominate. Because you know how to get it done and keep things in order.
And my baby? She got it done.
I guess we all did a good job.
If you enjoyed this and want to read more like it, visit Lori at her website, www.loriduffwrites.com , on Twitter, or on Facebook. Lori is a National Society of Newspaper Columnists 2018 & 2019 Columnist winner, and a New Apple, Readers’ Favorite, and eLit award winner for her latest release, “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive.” She is also the author of the bestselling books “Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza,” and “The Armadillo, the Pickaxe, and the Laundry Basket.”