Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Giddy up

I experienced an unfortunate low point in my month last weekend. 

Knowing the kind of sadness we've had this past year, this is really saying a lot.  I'm not proud to admit this, but here goes.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, we went out to the lake.  It was a perfect fall weekend - 60s during the day and briskly chilly at night.  We built fires and cooked out and had a spectacular weekend. 

Part of what makes it so beautiful, and so, well, autumnal, out there are the trees.  There are many, many - think, a bazillion, tall majestic trees - pines, oaks, pecan, elm, sweetgum, maples, cedars, etc - which, aside from contributing to the brutal seasonal allergies that plague my husband, also mean many, many leaves in the yard. 

So there we are, such a perfect fall tableau - our pictuesque little family in our boots and jackets and scarves, raking all the zillions of leaves. 

Okay, FINE.  Since Chris apparently reads my blog and prefers me to accurately represent the facts, I'll be a little more specific:  he was raking leaves, Aria was playing in them, and I was finding any excuse in the world to not rake leaves. 

But the point here, people, is this:  Chris reads my blog!!

Woops, not really the point.

Anyway, during some moment between burying herself, her sister, and Cooper in the leaves and rapidly dissembling the neat botanical burial mounds my husband had so painstakingly compiled about the yard, Aria posed to me this particular question, and I had a difficult time saying no.  Or, it could have been that I was looking for any conceivable distraction to get me out of the yardwork. 

Either way, it went like this:

"Mommy, can I get on Lexi and ride like a horse?"

A little background.  We've had big dogs my whole life.  There was our first family dog, Missy the Collie, then came beloved (Peppermint) Patty the Chocolate Lab, my personal all-time favorite Cooper the Big Yellow Lab, and Lexi - the um, well, my other Yellow Lab.  Get the message?  Big Dogs. 

And as a child, I often fantasized about saddling up one of said Big Dogs and cruising bareback around the neighborhood.  Yep.  There it is.  I always wanted to ride my dog.

Can't you just see it?  Me in my Indian Native American Princess costume, parading around the yard on the back of Missy the collie, galloping off to seize the gold from the bandits and rescue the cowboys from certain doom.  Or down to the mailbox to get the mail.  Or to the kitchen to eat a bologna sandwich. 

So last weekend, when Aria asked me if she could ride Lexi around the yard at the lake, I instantly saw it as, no, not a moment to teach my child about boundaries.  No, not as a chance to define for her right and wrong.  Nor to display for her my utmost respect toward animals.  Nope. 

I instead saw this as a fulfillment of one of my childhood dreams, and my answer was, "Sure!  Great idea, baby girl!  All aboard!"

Let the Mother of the Year Nominations begin.

I summoned Lexi over to us and convince her to sit.  Aria stood behind her and wrapped her arms tightly around Lexi's neck, and her legs tightly around Lexi's waist.  I then conspiratorily reminded Aria that in order for this to work, she needed to hold on very tightly and not let go.

I know, I know.  Such great advice, right?

Only Lexi refused to budge.  She stood still as a stone, not moving a muscle with the strange tiny human clutching onto her so tightly.

So here I realize my only possible option - other than abandoning this foolish venture, which I'd not be very likely to do as I am a complete and utter idiot stubborn - is to give Lexi cause to move.  And the one thing I know that will make her move - no joke, this trick would probably even still work when this dog no longer has breath in her body - is the very thing that I do: 

I shout, "Lexi!  GO GET THE RABBIT!"

Aria, bless her sweet little obedient heart, held on for dear life as my big, seventy-pound bounty hunter took flight with amazing alacrity in her zeal for the imaginary flop-eared Leporidae.

(See, Dad? I really did pay attention in Biology).

As you can probably guess, it did not end well.

My little equestrian (canine-estrian?) held on for about fifteen feet as Lexi went full-tilt down hill and across the yard.  The laws of physics ultimately forced her hand, and Aria had to release her hold of the furry ball of predatory muscle.  I watched it all in slow motion:  Aria flying off the dog, the dog tearing down the hill, Aria rolling over and over across the yard for about ten more feet, until landing facedown in a flourish of leaves and grass.
What did Mommy of the Year do then? 
Dissolved in a fit of hysterics.
Not the kind of, Oh-ma-gawsh-is-my-baby-okay hysterics, mind you.  It was more like the, No-way-that-is-the funniest-thing-I've-ever-seen-and-I-think-I-just-peed-myself hysterics.
Uh huh.  I know.  I know!
My account of these events may make it sound like I'm heartless, but see, I knew my baby was okay.  She landed in a big pile of leaves, kind of like alighting on nature's down comforter if you will, and after about thirty seconds of fake crying over her damaged pride, she was insisting we try it again.
Finally, though - finally! - good judgment prevailed, and I suggested instead that we go inside for a Capri-Sun and a cheesestick.
That said, I do hereby promise to not let my three-year-old's logic take precedence over my maternal judgment or a desire to fulfill my own three-year-old fantasy, which could ultimately put my precious baby in jeopardy of a scraped kneed, or broken collar bone, or bruised pride. 
Even if it does give Mommy hours of good laughs. 
I won't let it happen again.  Lexi, consider yourself free to hunt your bunny bounty without a passenger.


  1. So funny! And I remember your big dogs past! Maybe we can figure out other animals your girls can ride. I took two very young boys to ride an elephant with me in Cleveland Park along the Reedy River. So keep looking around Dallas.

  2. I cast my vote for Mother of the Year!!!