Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My mother on a short leash

My mother's index finger has gone arthritic, and is crooked slightly to the side, making it look more like the witch finger she claims it is. It's one of those unfortunate health issues that's turned family joke, and I suspect she enjoys the additional power she wields when she points it at us. We recoil as though she's growled our full names: first, middle and last. It's that scary.

It's that finger I imagine hovering over the keypad of my parents' phone right now, waiting to call me and say, "I told you so." She's the only person who can get away with saying this to me, and not just because I'm scared of her finger.

Of all the voices in my head, my mother's is the loudest. While she's given me some crap tidbits of advice in the past, she always delivers them with my best interests in mind. On occasion, I regret that my disgusted "I know" moans, have caused her to keep her opinions to herself when it most matters, leaving me completely vulnerable to her follow-up "I told you so," a phrase she's reluctant to surrender.

My parents outsmarted me several times when I was a kid, concerning my want for pets. When I asked for a rabbit, they said yes, but first, I'd have to endure child labour and toil for my opportunistic neighbours, to afford the rabbit and all its trimmings (the cage and food). The lesson taught me well. Now, I always set a rate in advance, and I know rabbits aren't worth the trouble, they are the trouble.

Still, when the opportunity arose to temporarily foster a puppy, bred to be docile and compliant, with a gorgeous fox-face, I fell into the same trap. The dog is destined to become an assistance dog for children with special needs, and all I have to do is give it love. Lots and lots of love, until it finds a semi-permanent foster home (in days, or weeks, or at most, a month). Oh, and there was something about training.

During these first few days of the experience, nearly everything's gone smoothly, all until the otherwise floppity, waggity, semi-comatose fluffball spies a larger dog in the park and barks uncontrollably. That's why, I suspect, my mother hasn't called yet, there's no need. She's channeling through the puppy: "I-wowowowow told-rrrrwarrrrwwrr you-bowowowow so-oh-oh-oh-ohhhhhh!" I'd know her voice anywhere.

Regardless of the readjustment and challenges ahead (missed debauchery, bike-ride hiatus, picking up feces), and all the whining I'll be doing because of it, I know that even my mother's witch finger, in all its cynical glory, would disappear in this puppy's fuzzity coat.

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