Monday, August 9, 2010

Perfect Moments

More often than most parents care to admit, so much of our time spent with our kids ends up falling into the "seemed like a good idea at the time" category. The picnic you planned to the place you read about in the newspaper turns into a trip to the ER with a broken bone. The late day spontaneous swim turns in to an epic "I'm cold" whine fest marathon. The surprise long  trip you planned in the car morphs into "this is the most boring day in my life so I will torture my younger sibling for revenge on you day."

In parenting as in life, we all too often have those "why did I bother and what was I thinking days."

I am on my third kid. She turns 9 next month, and with time, there has come wisdom. I am quicker to say "no", and less likely than I used to be to take risks on things that have a high probability of blowing up in my face.

Not that less likely I guess, because last night I allowed what was going to be a simple trip to Payson Park, morph into a 3 mile walk all the way around the Back Cove. In attendance was my youngest (it was her idea!!!), and Mango our latest foster dog. Mango is a 2 year old Greyhound/Lab/German Shepherd who was shipped up from the South for a chance at a better like in the North. We have had Mango for 2 weeks. One of my jobs as foster parent is to get to know the dog as best I can, and  to figure out what kind of home would suit the dog best and visa versa. A dog who can handle all the foot and paw traffic on the Back Cove Trail moves way up on the adoptability factor list. I suspected she would fine, but I needed to find out. The original plan was let Heather play and first work the dog in the field next to the play ground. When Heather got bored, I then planned to try her across the street and train a few minutes on the path.

There was no one in the playground, and Heather got bored in about 90 seconds.

She said "I wore my walking shoes, let's take a walk around the whole Back Cove." Followed by a chorus of sweet pleases that would melt an iceberg.

:"Really?" That had been on my list of things I always wanted to do, (see above), I didn't dare take the kids for fear of exploding blisters, or the all too well known epic whining. My biggest fear was that a child of mine would plant themselves down and say the two words parents are loath to hear.

"I can't."

I asked myself, what if "she can't", then what the hell will I do.

Just then then a big family with kids younger than mine passed us. They had no exploding blisters, or detached limbs.  They were not putting bees down each other's shirts. 
They had smiles.

"OK" I said, and off we started. It was already 7 o'clock and I told her it would take at least an hour to go the 3 miles. .

It took us 2 hours. In that time, I felt as though Heather was on a personal quest. Sure she whined, but it was only a little, and what I learned about Mango was priceless.

She is an awesome dog! She walks like a dream on a leash.  Mango didn't bother with any other dogs and the only thing she looked twice were Somalis with their billowing head dresses. I am sure she had never seen anything like that, and really all she did was rudely stop and stare. Nothing a stick of string cheese didn't solve. I had brought treats with me, but saved the stick of cheese for every time we passed a Somali. By the 7th or 8th one, she wasn't even bothering about them anymore.

The Power of cheese.

As for Heather, well sure there were a few "how much longer"s and "my legs hurt", but she was a trooper, and I was a proud Mom. We finished our walk after 9, and it was dark and getting a little scary. Holding hands for the last 3/4's of a mile was  a bonus as far as I was concerned. During one of our breaks, I snapped this shot on my Blackberry.

Perfect moments. I haz em.
That's all there is really,  strings of perfect moments.

You can read Mango's bio on Mango  comes with a free 5 week group training session with me in the Greater Portland area.


KathyF said...

Kids here in England get used to long walks ("rambles") at an early age. On a 3 miler we did recently there were several 5-7 year olds.

As for Mango, she'd love it here! Lots of long walks, perfect for a dog her age and size. Not too many Somalis, tho. :-)

Mary said...

This story describes one of those dream moments that we all look back on when our kids are grown and on their own How lucky you are to have your children. To be connected to them, and connected through animals and the earth. And to know each of them so well, the good, the bad, the challenging.

dognut said...

That picture is definitely in the worth ten thousand words category. I can't believe you took it with a mere cell phone camera.
Congratulations to Heather and Mango for holding up on the walk around Back Cove.