For a number of weeks this summer, neighbors down the way have been out of town. The mother and 9-year-old son are gone for seven weeks, visiting haunts up and down the eastern seaboard. The father was gone the first two weeks with them and for an extended weekend since then. My sons and I have taken care of their 10-year-old dog during that time. We even take him along with our mutt each morning even when the father is around.
[Let me point out that the father is a rather negligent pet owner. The dog is so clearly the love of the mother's life. The father's life? Not so much. We pity the dog to be saddled with the father, so we take him with us on our own morning constitutions.] [Not too bad to only take two paragraphs to set the stage.]
As a thank you, the dad gave each of my sons a thank you note with $25. A very nice thank you gift, I think, and I'm totally cool with him giving to the boys and not to my girl because said girl has only been involved two times out of an estimated 50 walks. I do wish he hadn't given it to the boys in front of the girl but, alas, he did.
Girl went ape-shit. Girl cried bitterly. Girl screamed -- rather loudly -- how unfair it all was. Much like with shampoo, repeat that scenario. Several times. Crying. Screaming. Repeat. Crying. Screaming. Repeat.
I did my best to explain to her that it was, in fact, fair. That she had helped all of two times out of a possible 50 times. That the boys had earned the money by feeding the dog, walking the dog, hanging with the dog to keep him company. All those things that are involved with taking care of a dog, they did. She, alas, did not.
I was clearly part of the conspiracy to screw her over. I clearly didn't love her as much as I loved the boys. I was part of the problem. It was my fault she was denied cold, hard cash. I was in on it.
I walked away because, really, there's no comforting this child when she is sad because of her own damn actions. Or inactions in this case. So up the stairs I went, and onto tidying the house. About 10 minutes later, a quite happy girl comes up, followed by a (somewhat) sheepish husband o' mine.
"Dad's going to give me $25 for taking out the recycling and the garbage for the next two weeks." Walking over to my still (somewhat) sheepish husband, she says, "Thank you, Daddy. You always know how to make me feel better. I love you." And she hugs him, looking at me the whole time. Then she skips off, singing a little tune with words I imagine are akin to, "Ha ha, you, Mom. Ha, ha, you."
My husband sputters an explanation and proceeds to try to defend himself against my accusations of coddling and enabling and blah-blah-blah. All I know is that I've now got to clean through as many things as I can in the next two weeks, filling those recycling and trash cans as frequently as possible.
Oh, the lot of the bad cop. It ain't pretty, but at least I know my role in the household.