The political bickering in Washington was on full display this summer when Congress and the White House put on the boxing gloves over the deal to raise the nation’s debt limit. It was a politically bruising bout that went down to the last round. A lot of punches were thrown. But in the end, they finally came to an agreement. I can’t say the same for my kids.
They’ve been waging a near daily battle that began at about the same time the fight in Congress really got going. But, while lawmakers ultimately cut a deal and then left town for their summer recess, my kids don’t appear likely to call a truce anytime soon. All the bickering this summer has made my usually peaceful home seem more like a war zone. My wife and I even attempted to negotiate a peace treaty. In the end, though, all we could do was keep them apart as much as possible.
Now that the kids are back in school, you’ll have to excuse me if I seem a little more than relieved. Ecstatic, would be more like it.
I was so eager to see our kids on their way that on the first day last week I rolled my 13-year-old son out of bed early, sleepwalked him through breakfast and then piled him in the car for the short trip to his middle school. I then returned home to a grumpy daughter who was angry at having been roused so early and angry that the first day of school coincided with her 10th birthday. At least she wasn’t mad at her brother.
Unfortunately, her send off to school wasn’t easy, either. We waited and waited and when her bus finally arrived a half hour late we discovered the driver had to switch vehicles because the first one had broken down. So much for a smooth start to the school year.
When she was finally on her way and my wife left for work complaining that she was late, I finally felt my blood pressure drop. I had the day off from work and it was looking more and more like it would be a strife-free day – a day to be savored slowly like a favorite meal cooked by someone else.
However, I failed to take into account our dog.
Before I parked myself in my favorite chair to relax a bit before reviewing the list of chores my wife had handed me, I sent our German Shepherd, Rodney, out on his daily security patrol of the backyard. His job is to keep his domain clear of squirrels and any other small animal that catches his eye. Unfortunately, there are times when he takes his duties too far – like when his arch enemies, the neighbor dogs, appear on the other side of the fence.
Just as I was sitting down, I heard it. It was the furious kind of barking that suggests dogs are engaged in their version of the all too familiar “stop touching me” fight that drove my wife and me crazy this summer.
I ended up having to snatch Rodney away from the fence by his collar and when he calmed down I gave him the “why can’t you just get along” lecture that I’d been giving my kids all summer. I told him he should stop being so territorial and suggested that he ignore the neighbor dogs because they are just pushing his buttons on purpose. I then wagged my finger in front of his snout and warned him he’d be grounded the next time I caught him trying to out-bark them.
That “talking to” works about as well on dogs as it does on kids. Maybe, I should run for Congress. At least then, I might get a little peace and quiet amid the chaos.