We adopted Jelly over 7 years ago. The little waif was found wandering, abandoned by her human family. Peanut Butter welcomed Jelly warmly into our home–more accurately, over time they developed an understanding–and J. and I embraced her. Now Jelly is our one and only and the focus of our excessive attention.
J. has always been Jelly’s Mother Superior, as you know. J. is the fun parent, and I’m all discipline. Jelly and I have our special times but I’m clearly not as loveable as J. Sadly, I can’t walk Jelly as much as I used to. Our special mother-daughter outings are now primarily our PALS visits.
This brings me to my sad awakening this week. We have an unspoken rule in our house: whosoever is coughing her guts out relocates to the basement bedroom at night. Currently, that would be me.
When she was younger, Jelly did not like to have her pack separated at night. She’d pace in the wee hours of the morning searching for the missing parent, alert for sounds of movement downstairs, and she’d rush to the basement door when she heard the absentee parent climbing the stairs in the morning.
Now that she is getting older, she takes these separations in stride. She does not react excitedly when the banished one resurfaces from the basement. By this I mean she’s too busy sleeping to say hello.
Last Tuesday morning, however, when we needed to arise early to get to the cancer centre, Jelly did not get kibbled immediately upon awakening as she normally does; she had to wait half an hour for her repast. While she was waiting, I arrived upstairs from my seclusion. The dog who is usually fast asleep when I resurface was wagging her tail furiously at the basement door. She greeted me effusively for the first time in the three mornings I’d been absent. I asked J., “Has she been fed?” (Consider this an excellent example of a rhetorical question.)
Petless people, don’t pretend you can’t relate to this scenario. I’m sure your teenager has never ignored you for days, only to be all lovey dovey when he wants something, like a lift across town or a later curfew that night or cold hard cash. And when you indulge him, I’m sure he remains sweet as pie for weeks afterward. Or maybe not, until he needs something again, that is.
The only difference for me is that food is my only bargaining chip. Jelly has never seemed interested in the car keys or a later curfew. And have I mentioned she’s started putting herself to bed early in recent weeks? Around 9 p.m., she saunters down the hall and looks back to see if we’re following. When we don’t budge, she shrugs and continues on to the bedroom. Of course her earlier bedtime is unrelated to her wanting her nighttime treat.
I told you, Jelly loves me for my capacity to feed her and that’s all. I’m hurt but I accept that parenting is often a thankless job. Except for the occasional tail wag and snuggle, and the unbridled adoration when she hears the treat bag crinkle.