The first time I heard my toddler curse another driver from the backseat, I realized that our kids learn an awful lot through observation. The key word being “awful.” Whether we’re driving aggressively, snacking unhealthily, or saying, “No, sorry,” to the panhandler outside the market, our progeny are watching. They’re listening. They’re learning. It’s unnerving.
We try to model thoughtful grown-up behavior. We try to embody — or at least convincingly imitate — the people we hope our children will eventually become: Respectful and responsible, courageous and considerate. We’re even careful not to gripe (out loud) when our own parents call during dinner, because someday that will be us. We’ll be the ones phoning our kids at inopportune times, and by god, they’d better answer with smiles on their faces.
But right now, we’re facing a tough grown-up task that’s made all the tougher under our kids’ searing scrutiny: managing our aging dog’s demise.
Jasper is 15, which is a-hundred-and-ancient in dog years. The boys have never lived a day without her.
Once the energy core of the family, she’s now a fluffy but matted rug that lies against the front door and can barely be budged when we come and go. She still barks, but it’s mostly at us, since her cloudy eyes can’t always tell who we are.
She’s stone deaf. Her hips slip. She sometimes leaves messes on the floor. And we invest more each month in her pain pills than we do in our boys’ college savings.