We put the new playset on the far edge of the of the property, perfect viewing from the kitchen window as I do the dishes or the dining room table if we are finishing up dinner and the restless 5 year old has already left. The added advantage of that placement was supposed to be that it was out of reach of the dogs with their zapping collars. I envisioned kids swinging, climbing, sliding freely, laughter filling the air. Instead I hear non-stop barking as the Golden is frustrated that he can’t get close enough to his boy.
Our Golden has chosen this child, deemed it his job in life to protect him. I am slightly insulted, a clear unsatisfactory evaluation of my efforts to date. Late to the scene, like some rescuing hero swooping in, he gives me no credit for my own acts of grandmotherly heroism. I have said no to this child. I have put him to bed at a reasonable time, I give him fruit and vegetables. I even make him brush his teeth. Really, shouldn’t I have the hero’s cape? Instead I get pushed aside by a fluffy-eared tail wagger who snarls when I push the child on the swing, elicting loud giggles. My screams are for Plum’s benefit, I promise I am not hurting the child, rather, pretending he is about to kick me as he goes up to the moon.
Mack has chosen to ignore the warning beeps in his collar, wearing down the battery, in order to get closer. He now sits right under or in front of the swing. If our Lab comes close just to bring me a ball to throw, Mack jumps up and runs him off. He has established that Plum is his territory, the rest of us need to go through him. He is driving me crazy, Plum is in heaven, singing his “Macky” song, rewarding the relationship. I have been cast aside, relegated to fetching snacks.
A daily battle reigns in my household: I crave order and quiet, I get noise and dirt. I want time to reflect, to consider. I get 4 clothing changes a day, poop scooping, constant wiping of mud from walls and floors and light switches and windows. One turned back and I find the sink has been filled with all the soap in the bottle and the fighter guys are getting a bath, while still fighting, splashing water all over the floor. More towels to sop up this mess and he disappears to create a new one. Maybe the dog is right to question my abilities. Many days I just feel too old for this.
Then my Plum climbs onto my lap, snuggles under my robe, craving skin to skin contact. He tells me he loves me, he chatters away. Mack can’t get between us, nothing can. These moments come less and less, my Plum swings higher and higher. Accepting that I won’t always be around to protect him is a tough concept. Remembering that God sends fluffy-eared dogs and angels to nudge me a bit out of the way, to give my boy room to soar and others a chance to watch over, gives me peace. Maybe this dog is a gift to me as well, a chance to sit for a minute, while they explore, chase, race. I am thankful for all of it, knowing time will take the little boy away, turn him into an adolescent who has no desire to snuggle and tell his gran he loves her. The dog will surely get all of the secrets then, the chatters and hugs. I will still fetch snacks. I will have hours and hours to reflect. I wonder though if the dog will ever stop barking?