‘It’ll get easier’. That’s what people say to me all the time about having small children. I know it will – after all it can’t get any harder surely, because that would just be unfair. Although, I’m not sure if ‘easier’ is really true. It’s just a different set of issues. The issues become less of the soiled and stained variety and more of the type of thing you actually have to do something about. One of the things that has developed is my eldest’s understanding of actions and their consequences.
So, just before Christmas my eldest came home from nursery having proudly made ‘reindeer food’ (a concoction of porridge oats and glitter) to leave out with instructions to: “sprinkle on the lawn at night so the reindeer have a path in sight” or words to that effect. The food was carefully placed to one side in preparation for Christmas Eve. That day she had also met Father Christmas who gave her a gift. This was placed under the tree.
Sadly, porridge oats delight not only reindeer. It seems dogs are partial to them too. Especially it seems when they are mixed with glitter and wrapped in cellophane with a bow. I came home from work early the following day to a scene of utter destruction. The reindeer food had gone. The cellophane ripped open and just a few lonely grains of oats lay scattered on the floor. I had one thought: the dog.
The dog was in his bed, looking as innocent as he possibly good, slowly wagging his tail. Just a little bow jauntily discarded, giving away his dreadful deed.
Now, if it were just the issue of the reindeer food that would be one thing. But no. Part of the crime scene involved nursery Father Christmas’ present. This too lay ripped open, but clearly of no edible value this lay (thankfully) intact and rather forlornly on the floor.
What do I do?! Shout at the dog, wrap up the present or re make the reindeer food? Too many options, I decided to just collect the children and break the news to my eldest.
The reaction was exactly as I expected. Otis, I explained, had found the reindeer food and decided to eat it and then open the present from Father Christmas. The reaction was instant. Tears. Lots of them and wailing. Wailing of such epic proportions it was like the world had ended.
Now, I’m not heartless but the sheer ridiculousness of it suddenly hit me and I could feel that dreadful rumble of laughter wanting to erupt out of me. I tried, I really tried but I couldn’t hold it in. I started laughing. Laughing so hard tears were rolling down my face.
The effect was instantaneous. My eldest stopped wailing and looked at me, confused. Was I laughing or crying at the shared upset of the dog having consumed the reindeer food and opening her present? With tears still making their way down my cheek I explained that the consequence of leaving the reindeer food and present at dog height was simply too irresistible an offer for a greedy Labrador.
Otis has since been regarded with deep suspicion, with all food and favourite toys being safely tucked away. I also found an interesting consequence of Otis’ consumption of the reindeer food – a very colourful, glitter laced dog poo shimmering on the lawn. A reminder that every action has a consequence and to always be prepared.