Okay. So, first, go to the farmer’s market and buy yourself a 70 pound watermelon. Then, drive to Disney World (because I think you would have to pay for an extra plane ticket for the oversized fruit if you flew). Just tell the Disney people I sent you, and I’m sure they will have no problem with you entering with a rather odd looking baby in an umbrella stroller. Go straight to a gift shop and shell out a cool hundred bucks for a rain poncho. Stand in line at Space Mountain for two hours. Get in your little Space Mountain car, and buckle the watermelon into the seat beside you. After the ride starts, try to dress your watermelon in the rain poncho before the ride ends. Make sure you get every button snapped. Oh, and smile for the camera.
Now you know what it’s like trying to get our bulldog, Wonderbutt, into a life jacket.
Stubborn our bulldog is. Stubborn am I. This time (0ne of the few times in 2 years) I won. But just because I got him to wear it for 5 minutes on the back porch didn’t mean it wasn’t going to fly like a cowboy off a bucking bronco as soon as we got to the pond.
He seemed pretty keen on taking a walk in his
strait life jacket, which made me a bit optimistic as I followed down the road to the pond. As we neared the “tank” (as Texans like to call it), his pace quickened despite the heat.
Then we reached the water.
We all watched as the other dogs quickly strode in to the pond. Wonderbutt walked around the edge for a bit, a little hesitantly.
Then he went deeper.
And, suddenly, he was swimming.
He. Loved. It.
Long after the other dogs had moved on to literally greener pastures, Wonderbutt continued to swim. I finally made him stop because I was afraid he was just going to run out of gas in the middle of the pond, and I would have to go haul him out by the suitcase handle on his back.
We went back to the pond 3 more times that weekend. Every time, my fat, attention deficit dog leapt into the water and swam until I called it off. The last couple of trips, he even fetched a stick.
Wonderbutt never fetches. When you throw something, he runs to get it, then races with it out to his Poop Pen so you won’t take it away from him.
But not this weekend. This weekend, Wonderbutt was a stick-wrangling water dog.
By the end of our time on the ranch, Wonderbutt was a seat-hogging snoring dog. Life is good.
“Did you call?” my husband asked.
“Yes, but it’s too late now.”
I could hear the alarm in his response, even though it was only one syllable – “Oh?”
“Well, yes. We’re already home. I was calling to see if you thought we should get Wonderbutt a life jacket because we were at Petsmart.”
“Well, how much are they?”
“Oh, you don’t understand. I already bought him the life jacket. You didn’t answer so I just made an executive decision.”
“But it doesn’t fit. It was a medium. So, we’re going back. We’re going to take him with us this time so he can try it on.”
I could tell that my husband was extremely thankful that I was taking care of all of this without his involvement. Because: A) The thought of buying a life jacket for our bulldog seems about as logical as buying a kayak for a T-Rex, and Dos) trying to get Wonderbutt to try on different sized life jackets in the middle of a store registers about a 9.5 on his Ways-That-I-Refuse-To-Humiliate-Myself Scale.
So, well aware that my husband thought that we might as well build our dog a float out of crisp dollar bills for all of the good a life jacket would do, I toted Wonderbutt and my daughter to Petsmart for our bright orange fashion show.
Predictably, we immediately gained an admiring audience of Petsmart customers as I struggled to fit Wonderbutt into the next size up. It had to be explained to everyone that he likes to swim, but tires pretty quickly – usually when he has just made it to the deepest part of the pond.
Wonderbutt is short. But what he lacks in height, he definitely makes up for in rotundity. So, even the Large jacket was no match for his girth. We had to purchase the X-Large for him – the one with a very fit looking labrador on its packaging. I found this slightly embarrassing, but Wonderbutt did not seem disturbed by this in the least. Perhaps this was because he had absolutely no intention of keeping the thing on for more than 5 seconds.
“This isn’t going to work, is it?” my daughter asked, as we stood in line to check out, and Wonderbutt managed to wrestle the life jacket off his back and on to the ground.
“Sure it will,” I replied confidently. Okay, maybe not exactly confidently.
Back in the car, I watched as Wonderbutt got in the back and proceeded to attack the life jacket with the zest he usually reserves for eating carpets or sofa cushions.
I looked at my daughter, whose eyebrows were raised.
I closed the door and got in the front seat. Already, the buyer’s remorse was beginning to sink in. I pondered my possibly expensive mistake, then turned around to speak to my daughter.
“Uh, just make sure he doesn’t eat the receipt, okay?” I said.
And so Wonderbutt’s next adventure began…
I find moms intimidating. Especially in large numbers. Like when they are supporting their daughters’ sports teams.
All of these years I’ve been preaching to my students about not caving in to peer pressure during their teens, and it turns out that adolescence is merely a brief introduction to the angst you will experience as the mother of a female involved in athletics.
I sang in the choir when I was growing up. My mother’s only responsibility was picking me up on time after school from rehearsal or performances. And her success record in that department was only about 50%.
So, I thought I was doing pretty good when I started shuttling my daughter to and from her swim practices three times a week in a timely manner. Sometimes, I even go above and beyond and actually stay to watch the practice.
It is becoming more obvious each month that my participation would register about .01 on the Richter Scale of Supportive Moms.
On competition days, when all of the other moms wear the same blinged-out t-shirts, loudly proclaiming the name of the team, I shamefully wear a non-denominational blouse whose only writing can be found on a small tag in the lining that says, “Hand Wash Only.”
When all of the other moms wear 20 inch photo buttons on their chests of their daughters’ smiling faces, with ribbons trailing from the bottom, I forget my button at home, and hope that I will not have to admit to anyone that I am not even certain of its current location – which means that I could have used it as a coaster, the bulldog could have eaten it, or it might have been thrown into the box labelled “Miscellaneous Christmas Decorations that are not Ornaments, Candles or Nativity Sets or That We Left on the Shelf Until February Because We Forgot About Them and We Never Dust.”
When all of the other moms get together and plan yet another party to celebrate Winter or Groundhog Day or Surviving Two Whole Weeks Without a Party, I am the only one who meekly says, “Um, is this really necessary?”
When all of the other moms help their children find the miscellaneous pieces of clothing that they shed all over the natatorium throughout the day, I am the one who shrugs and says to my kid, “Well, you wore it here, so it has to be somewhere.”
When all of the other moms stand by with towels for their shivering daughters in between competitions, I am the one whose daughter walks up, turns to the person to my side, and says, “Daddy, can you hold my towel for me?”
Some day, the other moms are going to have one of those meetings that I never attend, and they are going to kick me out of the ‘hood. The Mother Hood.
I’m going to stand strong, though. You don’t have to join the Mothers with Unlimited Gem-stoned Shirts to prove your love to your kid.
Just get her an iPhone, and she’ll get the message.
I was sneaky today, and did not tell you in my post title that this is one of my monthly Dead Rubber posts. For the uninitiated, Dead Rubber means boring, I really do try not to post anything boring but this is what I like to call my posts that are done “on the fly” – so to speak.
It’s Cinco de Mayo here in Texas, which sounds like a holiday adopted from another country, and it is. However, we like to take minor holidays from around the world and make them into bigger events in Texas because, well, everything is bigger here.
Anyway, if you’ve read my posts on my daughter’s favorite past time, synchronized swimming, then you can probably guess what I am doing this weekend from the photos below. This has made my Dead Rubber post a necessity today. I thought you might like to see that synchro teams have a sense of humor, though you can judge on your own how good it is…
It all started because Dimples does not like to sweat.
As the typical helicopter-missing-a-blade parent, I have been trying to guide Dimples through various extracurricular activities in the hopes she would find her niche. For awhile, I thought we had hit on the right combo with dance and gymnastics. As I mentioned before, the kid has ungenetically enhanced rhythm. She also has weirdly fluid flexibility.
But when we were getting ready to sign up for a new season, Dimples announced from the back seat of the car (her usual spot for stunning proclamations) that she guessed she didn’t really want to do gymnastics again. The same kid who does cartwheels and handstands all over the house declared that she no longer wanted to do them. In the one place it was actually encouraged and there were spotters and a big foam pit.
“Uh, you don’t want to do gymnastics?” To me, this was like Wonderbutt suddenly declaring that he would rather not eat the piece of cheese that had miraculously fallen to the floor during the preparation of dinner.
“It makes me sweat too much.”
My bipolar brain started duking it out immediately. One side was thrilled because we would save money and have more time. The other side was bummed because we thought we had found her “passion” in gymnastics.
Ignoring the inner battle, I felt obligated to ask, “So, is there something else you would rather do?”
“Swimming” was the surprising answer.
Why was this surprising? Because she spent the first two summers of swimming lessons avoiding putting her head under the water. She was over that now, but I never would have guessed as I begged her to please, please just put her face in and blow some bubbles years ago that she would one day decide that swimming was her all-time favorite sport.
It was also surprising because, once she had overcome her H2O fears, she had taken every lesson available at our pool. The only thing left to do was swim team, and she didn’t want to compete in swim team because, along with her strong opposition to sweat, she apparently has a strong opposition to opposition.
For a couple of days after her condemnation of the sweaty sport of gymnastics, I despaired of finding any kind of suitable replacement. There seemed no point in swimming more laps if she wasn’t actually going to do anything with it. Then I remembered reading an article about a local team. A synchronized swimming team.
A sport that combines gymnastics and swimming. A sport that has fun music and costumes. A sport that does not involve sweat.
After I ineptly attempted to explain all of this to Dimples, she gamely decided to try it out.
So, one night, Dimples joined the team at a practice while I talked to one of the board members about the requirements. As I listened to explanations about the financial commitment, the required fundraising, and the mandatory volunteer hours, I started realizing my mistake.
As I was realizing my mistake, Dimples was quickly getting used to this no-sweat activity. By the time I had concluded that it was time to ditch this idea and try sky-diving instead, Dimples had concluded this was her new passion.
So now we are rolling into Year 2. Dimples gets to do her dance and gymnastics without sweating, and I get to sweat how I’m going to pay for it.