My youngest daughter loves all things art. If I turn my back for too long she will scam my paintbrushes, pencils, markers, and paper, anything she can get her little fingers on. One day I was really busy with commissions and packaging, I left my paints out on the table to be put away later. She decided to help herself and took a little piece of canvas I had laying there and made a painting. A six-year-old painting can be quite a mess as I am sure you can imagine. She had paint on the floor, the table, the tea towel from the kitchen (in her misguided attempt to clean it all up) the paintbrushes tossed aside, paint tubes knocked over and dripping. So basically a complete disaster. When I came across this I just about lost my mind, as I went to call her down from her room to ask her what she was thinking getting into my stuff, (there have been enough warnings over the years) I saw a white envelope sitting on my desk. Inside the envelope I found this painting.
One day my husband brought home a big dog, without my permission. I saw him driving up the road towards our house, arm hanging out the window, cigar in his mouth and a big black dog in the passenger seat. Secretly I sometimes think he looks more like a redneck but that’s beside the point (and please don’t tell him I said that). I watch him pull into the driveway, with this dog and his cigar and felt one of those rare moments of hate that are inevitable in any relationship. There he was, completely white dust covered from one of his renovating jobs, cigar ashes flying as he strained to cart this dog out of the van. He looked at me; big smile covering his face then shrugged his shoulders and brought the dog in the house. I took a moment, a moment to unclench my fists and breath, just breath. Now don’t get me wrong, I love dogs, although I do admit to a slight fear of the larger ones. Again, I repeat, I do love dogs, however, we have six kids between us, two at that time that were little enough to be home during the day, with me and now, this big dog.
The dog was a female black lab mix with a little crazy stirred in. First thing the dog did to initiate herself into our family was to chew on the legs of my antique dining set. A dining set that has been around for approximately 130 years but is falling apart under the “care” of my rough family. It managed a 130-year life until it fatefully became part of our furniture collection. So the dog, whom we named Dolly, chewed my chairs and one leg of the table; happily I might add, like they were dipped in bacon grease. This all happened fast, she dove straight for the table and started chewing before anyone could stop her. Could have been comical if not for my total distress at watching my table getting ruined. As the kids and my husband chased her around trying to stop the destruction she would move to another chair, go in for a quick bite and slip away before any hands could reach her.
She was a friendly dog, very hyperactive though which did amount to a lot of interesting scenarios. Luckily a few of our kids were old enough to take her on lots of walks. For the older girls it was more of a tug of war then a walk but still, they got the job done.
For our youngest son though, who was only three at the time, this dog, Dolly, was both a friend and an enemy. They quickly developed a very complicated love, hate relationship; you see we were not used to a big dog in the house. So when we laid out lunch for our little guy, on the coffee table with his little plastic chair pulled up, well little did we know this was the perfect height for a dog thief. Every time our son looked away, Dolly, who would act seemingly uninterested while the food was being served, would then scoot over and devour the meal in mere seconds. Around the third time this happened, our son got up, walked over to the dog that was lying on the floor pretending not to notice him and then leaned forward to lift up her ear and whisper, “Dolly, I hate you”.
He had seemed to forgive her though, when later he brought the dog over to show us his art experiment. He had gotten into my art paints and brushes and had decorated the dog in multiple colors. What I found most amusing was the patience of this dog, our Dolly, to have sat through a painting session that was long enough for our son to change colors and cover multiple areas of her body. But he sure was proud and Dolly seemed happy enough, probably hoping in return he would just share his lunch with her.
I long ago decided my only defence in this family is to just paint!
Last night I couldn’t sleep. I lay there staring at the ceiling, trying to quiet my mind and relax my muscles. I even tried counting sheep. That didn’t help. I started making a mental inventory of everything I had to do the next day. Do you ever do this? Then come the next day you can’t remember what you were thinking of. I always tell myself I should keep a pen and paper beside my bed for these nights.
As I lay there, trying desperately to ignore the itchy bug bite on the bottom of my foot, my mind starts constructing a blog post, and then envisioning a new abstract painting. They were both brilliant, in my mind anyway, in the dead of night with no distractions aside from my itchy foot. But come morning I couldn’t remember a single detail of what I thought was too good to forget.
So I stare at my blank word press sheet, straining to recall what I had thought I wanted to say today and all I can come up with is, last night I couldn’t sleep, so I stared at the ceiling and tried to ignore the bug bite on the bottom of my foot.
My youngest son has been riding dirt bikes since he was three years old. He could ride a dirt bike before he learned how to ride his bicycle. He spent exactly one week with training wheels before he begged to have his father take them off. For hours he would ride circles around our yard, so desperate to keep going he would pee in his pants so he didn’t have to stop and use the bathroom.
Eventually we went from this circling the yard, pants peeing activity to practicing at a real live sand track in our area. Which, according to the professionals, is one of the toughest motocross tracks in Canada. As a family we were pretty new to this whole dirt bike, motocross, racetrack thing. My husband had been riding, he was no stranger to it but the rest of us, well it was pretty frightening at first. I was waiting for my son, who was four by this point; to ride himself into some fiery crash, break every bone in his body or worse. But in reality he started off going so slow my husband could run beside him.
When we put him into his first race, he was 5 years old and cried the whole way to the start gate he was so afraid. I of course wanted to pull him out and take him home, back to riding around the safety of our large yard. But my husband gave him a pep talk, wiped away his tears and stood with him at the starting line waiting for his turn. Watching this race was actually so cute and stressful, can’t forget the stressful. Cute because they were all so little, just chugging along the track, sometimes slowing down to a crawl to get around the corners. Stressful because my son didn’t understand the flags yet and didn’t want to get off when the checkered flag was flapped in front of him. We would have to race to the finish line to make sure he got off lest he be stuck on the track when the next set of racers (the bigger bikes) came along. He would meet us back at our trailer, huge smile on his face and ask if he won. Clueless. He had no idea what position he was in; he was just out there riding.
That same race weekend my son had made a new friend. This new friend loved to push his bike to the limit, which caused him to fall, a great deal. Well during the second race in the afternoon this little guy fell in front of my son. So seeing his friend down my son stopped, dropped his dirt bike, ran over to make sure his friend was okay then proceeded to try and start his bike for him. Once he was off and running my son went back to his own bike and couldn’t get it started. Someone came along finally and helped him out. He didn’t quite get the concept that he was in a “race”. When the coordinators of this race weekend heard about this act of good sportsmanship they were really impressed. So while my son didn’t win a trophy the weekend of his introduction to motocross racing, he was pulled up in front of everyone and awarded the first and only Good Sportsmanship Award this racing circuit had ever given which consisted of a brand new helmet (they are expensive, so this was a pretty big deal) and acknowledgement of his good deed. It was really unheard of for a racer to stop and help another rider during a race, thus losing his position. But to a little kid, who’s just checking to make sure his new friend is okay, it really seemed a no brainer.