Let the Children

            Minutes after 4, I rushed through the front door.  I started dinner, added fresh water to the dog's bowl and threw laundry into the washer.  My three youngest children set out their homework on our dining room table.  I bounced from food preparation to assignment monitor. 

            Playing this crazy game of back and forth got old, as old as I felt that day.  Priscilla, my pre-teen, walked into the kitchen from her after-school activity.  The dog greeted her by tripping me on one of my returns to the stove. 

            "Get this dog from under my feet.  She's gonna kill me yet.  Her hair's everywhere, and I'm sick of her smelling up the yard." 

            The reverberation of my voice stopped, and the house's stillness shocked me.  Priscilla stared wide-eyed, still wearing her jacket.  Seeing her frightened face, I knew she wanted to say something, but couldn't.  Coming home after her extended day to a ranting mother had stunned her. 

            Thinking this could scar her for life, I broke down crying.  "I'm sorry.  You just came through the door.  I shouldn't have jumped on you.  Who would want to come home to that?"

            We hugged, and I refocused.  It wasn't just the dog.  Working in a preschool classroom all day and trying to keep things from falling apart at home had frazzled me.  I needed to make a change, so I started with the dog.

            Priscilla had come to the age where being the mommy of a dog had lost its glamour.  Other things had taken her attention from Sprinkles.  But the hyper springer spaniel was a part of our family and giving her away could cause emotional damage to the children and, I had to admit, me. 

            My outburst had humbled me enough to see that troubleshooting this problem wasn't as difficult as I had expected.  Back in tune with reality, I noticed our son had slipped into the role my daughter had as Sprinkles' closest buddy.

            Once our family officially acknowledged my son as doggie's daddy, he took pride in feeding and walking Sprinkles without reminders.  The walks also helped with both their extra energies. 

            I worried that Priscilla would be hurt or jealous of this change in family status.  She seemed relieved though, watching Sprinkles leap with excitement as Forest jiggled her leash.  Priscilla's furry friendship had transformed to pet.  Just pet.  A hint that she was growing up.

            Me too.  I admitted to myself that a mature mother didn't have to function alone with household duties.  I can look for growth in myself to accept help from a capable child.  Part of my job as a parent is to look for progress in my children and tap new abilities as they develop before my eyes.  My hope for them is to realize how important their efforts are in our shared life. 

            So when issues arise, and I sense discord in myself, I see my daughter's fearful face that day in the kitchen.  This reminds me to step back and explore why I'm feeling so overwhelmed.  Usually it's a need for new rotation of chores, growth that needs more inclusion, or maybe just fatigue.  Even supermoms who love dogs can accept help from children.



  1. Thanks Marie, Joanne and Jessica for reading this and commenting so sweetly. So appreciated.

  2. Thank you for posting this very nice story. Putting a child in charge of a dog is a great way to teach responsibility. That might explain why my Dad and Stepmom have me watch their dog so often. Or do they have the dog watching me?

  3. I now know the feeling; children are such a joy, but know what buttons to push

  4. Yes we can, Dawn. And should. I'd be lost without the help from my children...at least the ones who still live at home. Thanks for this reminder. All the best in 2016!


to top