I know, I know. It's the middle of September and I'm still trying to catch up on the rest of our summer, but before I get to all of that, I just have to get to this one little incident.
So....do you remember that last summer, on the 4th of July, we were up on Bainbridge Island celebrating with my brother and his family? It was a lovely day filled with lovely things like three-legged races, tasty barbecue, quaint small town gatherings, a few tear-inducing fireworks and...oh yeah. A parade. A big fat parade during which someone walking along decided to gift Skippidy with a massive stuffed dog. Massive as in: Skippidy could not carry the dog because it was literally twice her size. That day she was beyond delighted and our whole family felt like the good luck gods had smiled on us with favor. We never win things, and this time, we totally did! Winner winner!
Then we tried to get the dog home with us. Talk about a tight fit in the car. And then we tried to find a place for it in our house. That was even harder than the car. We kind of stuffed it in the top bunk in the girls room for a while but I was afraid of how it would look for a stuffed animal to take precedence over my daughter as the dog stayed safe and sound up high while she tumbled to the floor, edged out by its furry bulk. Finally, after moving it around every few hours as it systematically got in my way all day long, I decided to see what would happen if I just left it on the back porch. Guess what. No one noticed. Okay, every once in a while the kids would drag it onto the back lawn and lie on it and roll around on it and stuff. But those times happened less and less frequently, until eventually I would walk outside and there would be this big furry dusty lump in the corner of the porch. It looked very sad and neglected, and also dirty.
I started to feel tempted to somehow dispose of or smuggle out this massive plush nightmare from the house. The only thing stopping me, as usual, was pure guilt. I wanted to get rid of it, but it didn't seem like a nice thing to do without asking. I'm sure you can guess, however, what would result from asking my kids. I'd never get their permission - that's just ridiculous. So outside it stayed. One spring evening we held a gathering on the porch and wanted to get things cleaned up and tidy in preparation. As we often do, we began piling the scattered odds and ends from the porch into the garage, just to keep them out of sight. And like so many other odds and ends, the giant dog didn't ever make it back out of the garage. It lay heaped just inside the swinging door, its permanently smiling face gazing absently at the floor.
Finally, as this summer was drawing to a close and we were trying to reclaim the garage from a season's worth of clutter, I broached the subject with Troy, who often teases me when I bring up things like this. I always try to couch my intent in a question like, "So....do you think the kids still like playing with this?" But I'm never able to disguise the underlying question of, "May I PLEASE get rid of this?" well enough for him not to recognize exactly what I'm asking. But that didn't stop me from trying once again. In fact, this time, I think he may have even brought it up himself.
Together, we shook out the dog and hid it in the back of the minivan, deciding to take it to a donation center rather than just flat out chuck it in the trash. I cleverly hid it under a blanket and surrounded it with other bags and boxes headed to Savers. And come Monday morning, I drove away, deposited our donations in the capable hands of the fine folks at Savers, and returned home, feeling I had triumphed.
I kid you not, not one week later, little Skippidy woke up a little early on a school day morning, made her sleepy and pajamaed way upstairs, and climbed into bed with Troy and me. She snuggled in close and said in a groggy little morning voice, "Mommy, I was just thinking. Do you know where my giant dog is?"
My eyes locked with Troy's, which looked as wide as mine felt. ARE YOU SERIOUS? Month after month after month without a word about this dog, and within days of its ejection from our home, she asked about it?
Of course. Of course she did. And many were the tears that did flow when we bravely told her the actual truth. Which was of course that we found a sweet little child who had no toys of their very own and we thought we could share something of ours.
Oh parenting. Sometimes I just have no idea how to do it.