I am biased, my daughters are beautiful and cute. But they are also manipulative. I caught on to just how powerful both are many years ago, and it was not long after that they realized how to deal with me, being aware of their powers of the mind. For others however, you will not be as lucky. Even Wendy has only caught on just a couple of years ago.
It was during dinner, when Madison blurted out, “Daddy, can I have a chameleon?” In spite of being outnumbered by four-legged animals in our house, my answer was still going to be “no”, because I am only willing to go as far as furry animals for pets. As usual, Madison turns on her negotiating skills, all animals appear to be reptilian in nature. However, once she realizes that my answer is always going to be “no”, she changes her performance level. She runs through nearly all emotions, beginning with cute, then disappointment, then anger, then sorrow.
Of course I am firm, and I am relying on Wendy to hold her ground, which she is not known for. Just like that, tears start to fall from Madison’s one eye. Dammit, Madison is taking this to a whole new level. I know that I am still good. My attention is on Wendy hoping she will not crack. “Hold on Wendy, you can get through this,” I say to myself. And then an odd thing happens and there is no reason for it. Madison starts laughing, but the tears are still coming out hard and furious.
This is no longer funny. This goes beyond crocodile tears. Madison can cry on demand. The only time I was not prepared for Madison and tears, was in the event of a painful event, whether physical or emotional. But as a manipulation? But what Madison did not realize, is that Wendy would now adapt to this new strategy.
Both Madison and Emmalie have great hearts, endless compassion and empathy. But Madison has a whole other level of the emotions when it comes to animals. I cannot recall if I ever wrote about our Pittsburgh kitten, if not, I will have to put that one down, because it is the classic tale of how to make Dad crumble, and in front of family and friends.
There have probably been at least a half dozen attempts by all the females in our house to increase the animal population. There are many reasons at this point for me to say no, from expenses to safety. Safety being sensativity to increasing the risks of developing allergies. The more concentrated and amount of fur, the better the chances of the immune system turning on us. Then there is the fact that Pollo is a much older dog, and may not do well with the energy of a young puppy. While some may think he would do well with the company, the truth is, that it would be an experiment. And finally, I want to give all my attention to Pollo at this point. I do not know how much longer I can expect him to go at thirteen years of age for a golden retriever.
And so, another attempt was made last night. With an upcoming birthday party for my younger daughter, I spent my evening cleaning up my yard. My family has already gotten me once before with the “surprise pet trick,” and I still never see it coming. But I figured that since they were coming home from karate lessons, and Emmy’s birthday coming soon, that when my daughters arrived back at home and said, “Daddy, you need to come and see,” I clearly was not expecting anything other than something to do with the party or birthday. So evidently I was not moving fast enough, Wendy came outside to greet me instead.
She flipped open her phone to reveal a puppy. Not just any puppy, but she had taken the girls into the one local pet store that we both despise, because we know where they get their animals and the conditions that the animals are subjected to. But with two young children tagging along, it makes the job of the pet store a lot easier to sell the animals.
So, here I was covered in grass clippings from weed wacking, and two normally beautiful little girls filled to the brim with excitement wanted me to get into the car, and take the ride with them, back to the pet store. The dog would be ours if we chose. The problem for my family, it needed to be unanimous, and the decision was not going to be.
This is what I gave up for my selfish decision. My youngest was going to make it the best Father’s Day ever. Madison hugged me like I was about to be shipped overseas. And then out came the stories on just how cute the puppy was. It was a great assault on my empathetic system. But as I am known to do, I made the difficult situation for all of us. I had to say “no.”
Of course, the ten year old mind, and the eight year old mind do not understand my decision. Together they have oversimplified the conversation in that Daddy will never allow them to get a puppy again which was not fair because Pollo was not a puppy when we adopted them. I did my best to assure them, this was not the case. But simply it was going to t take time. I knew they would not understand that. But I had to try.