Dogs Like Blueberries
“Alexa! Can dogs eat blueberries?!” Shouts my daughter Sarah from the living room in her high pitched squeaky voice full of gusto and excitement. Our family dog Maggie is currently sitting patiently full of anticipation hoping that she will get to enjoy the food in Sarah’s bowl. You know how dogs are.
Alexa’s blue ring appears and the hockey puck on our counter responds “that is okay for a dog to eat”. Exciting that she can give our begging pointer her bowl of fruit Sarah attempts to get Maggie to sit but her effort is fruitless (pardon the pun). Maggie is already face down into the bowl gobbling up the food. It’s kind of a funny sight now. My 5 year old is still trying to get Maggie to sit not fully understanding that once she has what she wants the prospect of a reward is no longer there and the command falls deafly on her black and white spotted ears.
In our family we let Maggie eat leftovers and share food in the kitchen when we are prepping. She will sit at the dinner table waiting but I typically tell the girls not to feed her during dinner, however, I frequently catch them sneaking food to Maggie under the table like any normal child.
I had just had been battling with Sarah to eat the rest of her dinner because I knew she would say she was hungry right as we were about to get ready for bed. I know other parents can relate to the “I’m full” comment and then say they’re hungry 30 minutes later when bedtime rolls around.
This particular night, I had given Sarah an ultimatum and walked out of the dining room to begin cleaning up the kitchen. I came back a few minutes later to a proud 5 year old holding up her plate with a sense of accomplishment. “All done daddy!”
Maggie on the other hand was frantically clawing and forcing her snout at something under the main post that holds up the table. Unable to get whatever was in there, I went to move the table to find half of Sarah’s food smashed under the two inch gap between the floor and the post. Sarah was dumbfounded as Maggie greedily licked up the potatoes, corn and chicken. If you know Sarah you’ll know she is never speechless even when she is at a loss for words. I’ll never forget the blank stare she gave me as I could tell she was trying to figure out how she had just been busted by her best friend. I on the other hand was ambivalent as I tried not to laugh but also hold back the anger regarding her blatant deceit.
Where I am going with this though is that I have two very different relationships with my girls. The one I have with Sarah feels at times more challenging. Clare listens and follows directions. I know I can give her a task and that it will probably get done. If it doesn’t, she will tell me or get help. So with Clare I delegate and don’t get frustrated when she can’t accomplish something. There are areas in our relationship where we have team like mentality.
Sarah on the other hand needs to be given very specific directions and then I have to follow up multiple times to make sure she hasn’t resorted to dressing up the dog. As a father, where I can grow with her is that I don’t let her be 5. I expect her to learn and to have self control but I also forget that she isn’t as able as her sister and that sometimes my expectations may be too high. I need to pull myself back and let her explore the world and learn in her own way. I need to learn to love the fact that she gets distracted from emptying the silverware with doing a song and dance in the living room… she may be inspired. She may be expressing herself and needs that moment…. I need to let her chase those butterflies. As long as I stay in tune with who my girls are, I’ll know where the lines between building discipline and giving freedom are.
So the next time that I ask Sarah to pick up her room or help fold the clothes, I need to make sure I think about what type of Dad does Sarah need me to be? So that I can recognize which direction to help her guide her life.
Back in our apartment I’m still pretty bothered with Sarah blatantly lying to me and how I need to address the situation. I ask her “Sarah, why did you lie to me?” she answers me with silence. I ask her again “Sarah why did you lie to me?” She bends down to pick up something and ignores my question. I ask again with some anger in my tone and Sarah looks up at me with the empty bowl as if no one around her knows and wants us all to be aware. She exclaims, “Daddy! Dogs like blueberries!”
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