I’m watching my parent’s dog this week while they are on vacation, and even though dogs aren’t kids, I think I’m picking up some parenting lessons. Deogi (my dog) is about five now; he can still be ornery and rambunctious, but overall, he’s pretty mild. Shelby (my parent’s d0g) isn’t quite two yet; she’s all puppy. For example, I couldn’t just sweep the house the other night. Nope. Shelby wanted to play tug of war with the broom. I don’t think she knows how to do anything gently. She races from one thing to the next with enthusiasm. She’s like those two year old humans that NEVER walk anywhere. They skip — or jump — or spin in circles to get where they are going. It’s cute.
But, I’ve learned two parenting insights. First, now I know why my mom always begged me to go play with my little sister. I cracked up the other day as I watched Shelby run around Deogi. First, she tried just squeaking the toy in her mouth to entice him to play. Then, she rested the toy on him. Then, she threw it over his back. Then, she went under him to retrieve it. I swear if Deogi could talk, he would have whined, “She’s touching meee.” As I chuckled, I remembered all the times, my mom would say, “Would it kill you to play with your sister?” That’s pretty much what I found myself saying to Deogi.
Second, I’ve learned that your firstborn needs to be well behaved. If Shelby won’t come inside, here’s what I yell: “Deogi, come!” If the dogs are wrestling under the table, I fuss, “Deogi, get out from under that table.” Shelby’s not going to listen, so I figure my best hope is to get Deogi to start moving in the right direction. No wonder firstborns wind up feeling like their behavior has to be perfect.
If my parent’s vacation was any longer, I might lose it entirely. You might find me in the living room with the two dogs trying out this line: “No. No, you look at me when I’m talking to you.”