If there is one thing I’ve learned while playing tug-of-war with our big German Shepherd Dog Rodney, it’s not to wrap the rope around my hand. Otherwise, he jerks my arm so hard he knocks me off my feet and I end up flailing around like the bad-guy at the end of old westerns – the one whose comeuppance includes getting his boot caught in the stirrup of a runaway horse.
Rodney leaves my arm sore a couple of times a week. I always know when he wants to drag me around the back yard when he grabs his tug-toy. He won’t leave me alone until I submit.
These days, though, it’s not just Rodney who’s jerking me around.
Our teenage son is, too.
We’ve been engaged in a completely separate tug-of-war ever since school let out for the summer. And, instead of only having to deal with it twice a week or so, our tug-of-war is every day.
Before you start picturing the absurdity of us squaring off in the living room with a rope stretched taut between us, our tug-of-war is more figurative than literal.
It started when my wife crushed my long-standing plans to create a man-cave in our basement. It’s now a teenage boy-cave. She finally agreed to let our son live down there.
Instead of my own private happy place that includes a big-screen TV, a snack bar and a refrigerator stocked with my favorite beverages, I now find myself beginning each day standing at the top of the basement steps nagging my son to get his you-know-what out of bed.
It was easier when he slept down the hall from us. If all else failed, I used to just send Rodney in his room to slobber on our son until he woke up. But that doesn’t work, anymore. There’s something about the basement that Rodney doesn’t like.
I guess I could send our cat Skitty, but she only goes down there long enough to well … go. Her litter box is in the basement. Besides, she’s so mean that if she actually did try to wake him, I’m afraid she’d take too much pleasure in poking his eye out (she’s been known to draw blood while insisting my wife get up to feed her in the morning).
So, that leaves me standing at the top of the stairs hollering every half-hour or so until he finally makes an appearance.
My wife and I aren’t totally unaware of what it is going on. The change in our son’s sleeping habits is directly related to his big move to the basement. In other words, he’s been staying up all night on the internet.
We’ve taken steps to put a stop to his late-night surfing. We now switch off our modem at bedtime. But he’s been getting around that. He admitted to me the other day that he’s been using his “ninja” skills to sneak upstairs to turn it back on.
I told him a real ninja would think to turn it back off before he finally fell asleep so his parents wouldn’t figure it out.
I could threaten to make him sleep upstairs again if he doesn’t start getting up at a reasonable hour. There’s still a bed in his old room, after all. But since my wife has plans to turn it into a home office, it looks like I won’t be getting my basement back anytime soon.
I guess I still have the garage. It’s got some man-cave potential. There’s room for a big screen TV and if summer temperatures remain where they are, Rodney is not likely to want to spend much time in there, giving me some relief from at least one tug-of-war.