Among M’s social set in particular, I frequently feel like there must be some massive competition for Best Mom Ever that everyone forgot to tell me about. Seriously, how else can one explain that every single one of her 6th grade friends has a phone and that four of them have recently acquired puppies?
The only bright side to the phone ubiquity is that when the kids all walk over to TCBY or Starbucks after school, I can wait half and hour and then check Instagram for the Required Group Selfies With Frozen Treats and reassure myself that my child has been neither abducted nor run over. Yet.
There is no bright side to the puppy trend, at least here at our house.
I love puppies. They are adorable, delightful . . . expensive, high-maintenance living creatures. I cringe whenever I hear that someone else is getting a new Best Friend Forever, because we’re not talking the normal middle school social-shuffling shenanigans, we’re talking about true friends, furry friends, the kind of friends who will listen to all of your pubescent problems and lick you appreciatively for a decade to come. Because I know, holy cow, do my children want a dog.
I really want a dog, too, but I don’t think that I can manage a whole dog. It’s heartbreaking, because I was raised a dog person. Growing up, we always had a dog (some would say that we had too many dogs, in alarmingly rapid succession, but that’s a tale for another day). I would truly like a dog, say, every third day. I would like to participate in a dog co-op.
And, sadly for the girls, I’m the enthusiastic parent. Cute W has zero interest in a committed dog relationship. I blame his longtime pet, that bitch Freckles. She was a Dalmatian, and she really wasn’t crazy about most people. Cute W often recalls that children would come running, squealing over the “firehouse dog,” and she’d bark and lunge. Years later when I came along she’d barely acknowledge me except to snarl menacingly at my toes when I was foolish enough to shift my feet under a table. No wonder Cute W’s not interested.
As M’s birthday approaches, I’m constantly asking for what she’d like, “besides a phone or a puppy.” In fact, she’s tried lowering her expectations and has more recently asked for a kitten or a bearded dragon. Yeah, we don’t want those, either.
Luckily for M, she still manages to benefit from her friends’ parents’ generosity. Take the last few days, for example. Saturday was a beautiful day, and with both Cute W and J off doing their sports, I invited M along for a little walk around the neighborhood. Because that’s Katie: I think small. I think, “What a lovely day. We should take a little walk.” And we were in the middle of a really quite long walk when a text arrived from our mother-daughter friends. That Best Mom Ever had said, “What a lovely day. We should drive an hour each way to Adirondack Extreme to do a high trees adventure course with a friend.” Well, clearly this was a better offer. Now, to further cement my status as underachiever, I was texting frantically, trying to figure out if she could fit in the trip before her evening party. If you don’t understand how this enhances my Underachieving Mom street cred, you’ve obviously never seen me text, complete with squinting while jabbing with a single index finger. And by the time that we’d determined that the trip could happen but time would be tight, I also realized that we’d never get home quickly enough. So I called Cute W. Now, in fairness, we could have walked home, if M had nothing better to do than walk with her mother. So when she started laughing that he was rescuing us, it was slander, pure and simple. When M hooted that I’d been about to turn the wrong way on Rosendale, I reminded her that either turn would have gotten us home. . . eventually. But she was too excited to move on to her better offer to further discuss the point.
Later I was picking M up at a different friend’s birthday party, and the mom there mentioned that she was taking her daughters to Summer Jam at SPAC this weekend. Well, of course she is. Because that is the sort of thing that the Best Mom Ever does. I’d even considered it, briefly, wondering if I should offer to take M and a couple of friends as her official birthday celebration, but then I’d dismissed it. Now I thought about it again. She probably wasn’t the only Best Mom out there. Surely on Saturday, M’s Instagram stream will be packed with children whose mothers’ love for them is, perhaps not deeper, but far more apparent. So I pondered . . we had a soccer tournament all day, if I brought M and a friend I’d offer the same to J, and by then the count would be five and Cute W would be left out unless we took two cars, and then we’re talking double the gas and how much were those tickets. . . ? Ugh, forget it, I thought. After the next day’s soccer game, M came bounding over. Her friend had invited her to come with her! To Summer Jam! Right after the soccer tournament! Hooray!
Thank you, Village, for making my daughter’s life so much fun and so rich in unbelievably awesome experiences. But please, I beg you: stop getting puppies.