CHENNAI : So when we added a dog to our family, I thought that it was an excellent opportunity to be the parent I was meant to be. The parent that my biological children were intent on thwarting me from becoming at every twist and turn of the nine hairpin bend road that is parenting.What kind of parent would that be, you ask? Strict but loving. Fun, but with firm boundaries in place.
The kind that whips up amazing gluten-free brownies with her children, teaching them valuable life lessons, fractions and measurements in one fun, fell swoop. My children, I once believed, would have passions that they pursued with single-mindedness. But not with such single-mindedness that they forgot to put their shoes away and flush the toilet. I would be the kind of mother they would be happy to sit with on the balcony in companionable silence.
Dear reader, I am not that parent. The boundaries in our home are not firm. They shape shift within two nano-seconds of whining. My strictness veers like a pendulum out of whack — ‘NO YOU MAY NOT WEAR THOSE SOCKS TODAY!’ to ‘You don’t ever have to do anything you don’t want to sweetheart. No, that doesn’t include school, brushing your teeth and bathing.
You have to do all of those things.’ Attempts at gluten-free baking have lead to gagging and cries of ‘Why do you hate us so much?’ And companionable silences are punctuated with ‘Can I play on your phone now?’While I’d clearly made a mess of things with Thing 1 and Thing 2, I thought four-legged and furry Thing 3 would make up for it.
Woody, I vowed, would identify me as the alpha in our motley pack. He wouldn’t get up on the sofa. He would pee on command. He would fetch our slippers and not chew them. He would be so amazing that I could start an Instagram handle starring him that would put my kids through college. Okay, that would keep me happy in Tequila at least.
Well. I have a six-month-old puppy that has decided that the best place to rub all the mud and grass off his body after a walk is our off-white couch. Who pees on the command of a little voice in his head that no one else can hear. Who thinks that ‘sit’ is an invitation to sit on top of the dining table. Who ignores his expensive chew toys and much prefers our Crocs.At first, I thought this was some shortcoming in Woody. Just as my own children had inherited their most deplorable traits from the some-what-okay other half and his side, this dog too must have gotten these quirks from his pater.
And then I realised: No! This is my fault. I’m at fault. I just don’t have the stomach to be strict and firm and persistent. Life is too short to be spent trying to improve your children. One day they will be someone else’s problem, so why spend the interim period trying to make them better? Drink enough tequila and even the worst behaviour (yours and theirs) will seem acceptable. Chin-chin!