J and I were visiting a neighbor’s puppy the other day. She’s the kind of puppy who makes you crave one of your very own–well, typing this, is there a puppy that isn’t that kind of puppy? But maybe there is, one of those big, slobbery, nipping puppies with coltish legs that you know will become an unwieldy Marmaduke in a matter of months. This one, though, is small and fluffy enough that each time you encounter her, you can’t help but notice that she could fit in your backpack for the walk back to your house without any problem.
Somewhat predictably, J found a way for this delightful puppy visit to provoke anxiety. In her early formative weeks, this puppy and I had quite a bit of quality time while her family had concerns that pulled them away. Even though we hadn’t hung out lately, she must have remembered this, somehow. The puppy danced around my feet until I knelt down for a flurry of puppy kisses while J stood back, watching with the stormy face of a girl ignored by her crush at a school dance. Sigh. I tried to lead puppy to J, I tried ignoring puppy, and eventually J got a bit of attention.
At one point, J held the puppy in her arms, baby-style, and I noticed that she was jiggling her and swaying as she chatted with us (the puppy and me). Her movements seemed so unconscious and natural that I felt like we’d telescoped forward into a time-warp, like I was getting a flash-forward vision of my J as a mommy. She’s an affectionate girl, that J. Love-biting fellow toddlers years ago, marathon-hugging us even at eleven, trying to snuggle up to an often-prickly big sister. It will be wonderful, I thought, to see J as a mother someday. All that almost-overwhelming affection will be welcomed and absorbed by a little one. If it happens, that will be a lucky baby indeed.
When it was time to go, we had to shut puppy in her crate, and she whimpered piteously. J was beside herself. She went back one more time for last hugs, then shuddered as the puppy whimpers began again in earnest. Finally she pleaded with me, “Let me run out the door before you shut her in. I can’t stand to listen to it!” We agreed on the plan, and she fled down the back steps as I headed back to the crate. I chuckled to myself. Just a prediction, but I don’t think that J will be a Cry-It-Out kind of mama.