Wednesday, January 10, 2007

If I'd Known Then.....

How many times do we say that to ourselves - "If I'd known then what I know today"? And if we had known then, would we really have done everything differently?

I don't know if I would or not -if I could do a few things over or my whole life - change everything or just some little things here and there.

One thing I do know today is that my family - my kids and me - would most likely be considered "dysfunctional." Mainly because they are the product of a single parent family but then too, so was I - just under different circumstances.

With me, it was because my Dad died when I was 2 1/2 weeks old of cancer. For my kids, it was because their Dad and I divorced when my youngest had just turned 4. My son was almost 7, the older girl was 12.

For me, life was different from many of my peers on two counts - there was no dad here and I was an only child. I did have both my Mom's parents though as we lived with them, so there was an adult male in the house - although he was 70 when I was born, 82 when he died and the last three years of his life, he had what was referred to then as "hardening of the arteries" -which tends to affect people very much like Altzheimers.

Growing up with my grandparents though kind of made me almost like an extension of their family - a really, really late in life child sort of thing you know! My grandma and Mom tried to discipline me with some degree of success, as long as my Grandfather was not around. Him, I could wrap around my little finger -or so it often seemed. While my Grandma would grumble, growl, complain about this or that of my behavior and Mom would, if Grandpa was no where in the vicinity, occasionally even take a swift hand to my behind and one one occasion, even broke a switch off a tree, chased me around the outside of the house till she caught me and whipped me with that branch. But Grandpa - the harshest thing he ever did/said to me was "Goodness Agnes" and often that was just to get me to be quiet so he could hear his baseball game on the old radio that had more static on the broadcasts than anything!

My kids, on the other hand, did get a smack more often than I did but it wasn't an every day occurance and they knew if I was actually angry enough to do that, they were really in big trouble. They didn't realize why I tried to ride herd on them as hard as I did back then, but for the most part, today they do understand it was mainly to keep them out of as many scrapes as I could possibly avert and also, to try to avoid them being labeled any more than absolutely necessary because of being the product of a "single parent family."

Tonight, my older daughter and her fiance came up for supper and my son was also here. Mandy had to work till 7 p.m. so didn't get home to join the "party" (if you want to call our dinner together that).

The older girl, Carrie, is still ticked at her brother because of the episode Christmas Night when he totalled my car. Ok, I'm still very ticked off at him over that too. Carrie also has a tendancy to be very free with dishing out comments to her siblings as well as to me, that were we to say the same thing to her, she might never speak to whoever said what she felt wrong, hurtful, insulting again. OK - dish it out but not take it - yep, that's about her speed a lot of the time.

So tonight, when my son arrived here for supper, she immediately was going to start riding him about anything she could think of but he tried to avert this by telling her to make a deal - pick on each other as much as possible but only to do it in a fun way and surprisingly enough, she agreed to that!

They started to exchange wise cracks back and forth - my son has a very good wit, great sense of humor - and somehow the subject of dysfunctionality popped up. Someone, I don't know who, asked what is the definition of dysfunctionality and I responded to that by said it is 'E.R.T.M.E.R." (That's our surname, you see.) And from there, everything was fair game as long as the wise cracks were done in a "fun tone." They wanted to check and make sure I had taken a zanax today because otherwise, it might not playout that way - fun, you know. And, since I had done that (taken a zanax earlier) I wasn't in an angry or depressed mood. Ok, that angle was covered and things were safe. All went fine until Carrie reached for the white phone on the kitchen wall to make a phone call and I told her she'd have to use the other phone because the kitchen phone is on the line that my computer runs on, therefore, it was busy.

And, she started to get a little off the "fun" track and was ready to slam me about why did the computer have to be on all the damned time anyway? I smiled and reminded her this was to be "fun" nothing bad tonight and she did, for a change, back down a bit, but it was a bit of a close call there for a few seconds, maybe even minutes.

They brought with them tonight though a surprise visitor. Carrie and Robert had the cutest little puppy - about 3 months old - that they brought up here. Seems this puppy had been "rescued" by Robert's brother and his wife but after they got the pup, they decided to split up and where each was moving was a "no pets allowed" place so Carrie and Robert volunteered to "re-rescue" this dog and claimed her for their own, to live and romp and play with the three dogs they already have.

The pup is part cocker and part black lab and is just absolutely adorable. She's white with black ears (like a cockers) and black splotches of fur on the white and her eyes - well, they are different as they have a sort of blue ring around them! Just the sweetest puppy I have seen since the black cocker mix puppy I brought home when I was about 13 years old! I picked her up, cuddling and petting her and I could feel the tears almost ready to burst forth while caressing her. Her name is "Ollie" and I, half-teasing, told Carrie after she explained how they came to acquire her, that if she got the dog house-broken - well maybe - and she knew where I was heading with that too - maybe somehow we could figure out a way to convince Bill, my daughter Mandy's husband, to give it another try to have a dog in the house! He isn't an animal hating person but he isn't an animal lover either of the variety my kids and I are! Dogs, to him, are not meant to live in a person's house - they should have their own house out in the backyard and be tied up there, day in and day out. My kids and I feel much differently - dogs are meant to live inside with their people! End of discussion! Bill tolerates the one cat we have simply because Mandy made it very clear from the beginning of their relationship that the cat was a very high priority party in our home and would remain on the pedestal we've created for her over the 15 years we've had her! He knows, full well, should anything at all happen to that cat and there is the slightest inkling that he might have not done everything possible to be nice to the cat, his happy homelife will end then and there! No questions will be asked, he will just be totally shunned from that time forward, through all eternity as far as my daughter is concerned.

We were curious as to how the baby would respond to the puppy and after the initial lick up the middle of his face and the shock that gave to his system, he seemed to respond very well to the puppy. Maya was asleep on the couch when they arrived but when she woke up and saw this cute little furball bouncing around the room, she immediately made friends with the dog and Ollie with her! They took turns chasing each other - or so it seemed - around the living room and dining room and Maya was giggling virtually all over herself, she was so happy and excited over this little dog!

Will we manage somehow to acquire Ollie for our own? Well, that part still remains to be seen and odds are my desire there will go down the tubes and the pup will stay then with Carrie and Robert. But, boy seeing her here tonight, sure did make me yearn for some of those good old days!

The thing of it is - I do know today what I didn't understand back when I brought the puppy home - my sweet old Duffy - that a puppy, while cute as a button, takes a lot of work, a lot of care, training - extra money for dog food and even more extra funds for lots of new shoes too more often than not! Yeah, I do know all that; I even accept that too.

But at the same time, knowing now too what I didn't know or realize then, a puppy and small children, provided the temperment of the dog is the right type, is one of the very best things you can ever provide in a child's life.

And I wonder if we had this puppy, would it provide a really good outlet to help Maya grow, achieve more of her learning goals by sharing her young life with that of this loveable and so beautiful little puppy!

Cross your fingers, shake the rabbits foot and pray that I don't have to wonder but will maybe, with just enough luck, be able to watch them forge a good solid relationship between a small child and a loving little dog! Dogs are also good for old people to have around themselves too - wonder if my son-in-law might also buy that theory? (I didn't know that then but I DO KNOW that now!)


Smalltown RN said...

What a post. You shared so much about your family and personal life that was wonderful.

I love my Bert(our dog) but because of my asthma he spends a lot of his day outside. When the weather is bad we have his bed that he comes in and lays on. Actually he is sitting right beside me in my office...we got him from the SPCA when he was 9 weeks old. He is part shepard and golden retreiver. A beautiful dog...well in my humble opinion that is. As my children don't live with me Bert is my friendly companion....that is when hubby isn't

Cheers my friend...glad you had a nice visit with your children.

Gene Bach said...

I don't know many families anywhere that couldn't be considered "dysfunctional" at some point in time. I'm willing to bet you that folks would have thought my family to be raving lunatics had they been a fly on the wall while I was growing up. LOL!

I hear you on the extra work with the dog. I just got a black lab pup..11 weeks old. Now starts the work of taking a dog that's just happy to be alive and turning her into a top notch gundog. Labs and Cockers are great dogs for kids...lots of fun and energy.

Hope it all works out well for you.

Vic Grace said...

I think most families are dysfunctional in their way. I am sure mine was but we are all okay. How many people in the world have absolutely perfect parents, living arrangments and security etc. NONE and probably the more goods they have in the world the more dysfunctional they are.

We always had pets with out kids and we have one now but this is the last, the committment is enormous. It is like have a 2year old around for 15 years.

Jeni said...

Very true on the dysfunctionality factor there - for sure! I think too lots of families are dysfunctional but don't have a clue that they are that way either. At least my kids and I recognize this factor - just about daily it seems too!

The dog - sad to say there I don't think it's going to be in my cards for her to come live here! Dang it all anyway! My daughter reminded me of a couple other barriers - two little ones that would have to be left alone in the house to take dog out to do it's thing if I'm the only adult here on a given day! Yeah, very true! It's risky enough to go to the bathroom in the house with the 3-year-old on the loose sometimes! LOL