Kids and Dogs Make the Best Friends
Grownups Not So Much
I got up earlier than usual this morning. It’s lovely to sip my coffee on the patio on an early summer morning. There’s a robin with a nest of babies in the garden and a chipmunk poking around looking for seeds that I planted yesterday. The little rascal! The air is fresh and cool on my skin. The bittersweet call of the mourning dove attracts my attention.
Nostalgia begins to pay me an unexpected visit.
The sensations that fill my body this morning are so familiar. Sweet memories of days gone by. Me as a young woman starting my summer break from teaching fifth grade in rural Maine. My two kids all tousled headed carry bowls of cereal to our screened-in back porch, a necessity in the northeast to keep the black flies from tormenting us.
I’m there and I’m here at the same time. Sadness creeps over me, filling my heart to the bursting point. Where did the time go?
I’m 71 and living in the moment more than ever before. My priorities are adjusted to accept reality and enjoy the little things in life, yet I’m often caught off guard by these unsolicited memories.
When I was younger, I wasted a lot of precious time worrying about the future.
Would I make enough money to send my kids to college? When would we finally finish building our house? Where should I go on vacation? Would I find someone to marry me? Would he stay forever?
The worries were endless.
Looking back, I see clearly how futile it was to worry about the future. Time marches by taking no detours. It’s headed straight to our graves whether we’re aware of it or not. Yes, life is a journey with a final destination. We don’t get to wander indefinitely.
Would I do it differently if I could?
Some of it, yes, but overall no. I think if I were able to go back and redo the past, it would be almost entirely centered around with whom I spent time. I’d spend a lot more time with my kids and my pets. I don’t mean just being in the same room with them either. I’m talking about quality time.
Over the years, I’ve come to truly appreciate the utterly refreshing qualities that both have to offer.
Grownups not so much. Children really are the best of us. We’ll never be more forgiving, accepting, nonjudgemental, or easy to inspire than we were as children. Life beats a lot of that out of us over time, but during those years of innocence we’re full of promise.
I have two children, a boy and a girl.
They’re seven years apart, long grown and managing well on their own. I’ve always said that they made parenting easy. If I had it to do over, I’d spend even more time with them than I did. Just hanging out doing things they liked to do. Children aren’t complicated. Their demands are really few compared to adults. They enjoy playing and exploring.
Two things that grownups forget how to do.
I mean let’s face it. The popular definition of play for grownups involves going to a place where the music is so loud you can barely have a conversation and then drinking so much that you can’t remember what you did the next day. Who came up with that ridiculous social standard of entertainment? Throw in a few more drugs and flirt with a total stranger, someone you probably would hate if you really knew them, and we’re told that we’ve scored a great memory.
I did very little of that, but I can remember worrying that I might have missed out on something.
Now I know that I didn’t. What I missed out on was having enough free time to play — with my kids. I was a working mom. I loved my job, but it took up a lot of time and when I got home at the end of the work day, I was often pretty tired. Fortunately, I was a teacher, so I did have a big part of my summer’s free and most holidays with my kids.
Such sweet memories.
We lived a few miles from a beautiful natural lake called Clearwater. After supper, we’d pile into the car and drive down to take a swim. The water was cold because it’s a deep lake. A swim in Clearwater lowered your body temperature for the rest of the evening. Good thing, too. We didn’t have air conditioning back in the good old days.
I can’t forget our sweet pets either.
Our last two dogs, Sasha and Oscar, were such lovable little fur balls. They spent long days waiting for the family to get home from work and school. They rarely had an accident on the floor. They were wild with joy when we walked through the door. Both dogs are buried in a grove of trees next to our house in Maine. We sold the house and left Maine after I retired.
I miss those two little friends.
Whenever someone tells me they’re lonely, I always resist the urge to suggest they get a dog. In my opinion, no one ever needs to live alone when there’s dogs who need a good home. They would be so grateful to be adopted, too. My grandmother use to say that the more she saw of people, the more she liked dogs.
I couldn’t agree with her more.
Adult humans get it all backwards, don’t they? We fill our days with worry, forget to play, ignore our best friends, and hang out with the wrong people. I’m glad for the memories I have to keep me warm at night.
My two sweet children and my animal friends brought me so much love and joy.
I’m taking it slow and deliberate with my granddaughter. So far, I think she’s the best relationship I’ve ever had. I get it now. I understand life.
When I’m with her, we play.
Teresa Roberts is a retired educator, author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.