It’s been more than two years since we saw Big Son. He went to New Zealand for a job interview, got a fabulous job and stayed there. He’s living his best life. It’s been more than a year since we saw Big Daughter. She’s in New Zealand too, living her bestest life, working a fab job and flatting with her big brother. It’s also been more than a year since we saw Middle Daughter. She’s on a university scholarship in NZ, studying to be an engineer. Living her best life. Because of Covid and closed borders, we haven’t been able to hop over and see our children. (We could have travelled, but then we would have had to do two weeks of quarantine in NZ and then two weeks quarantine in Samoa on the way back. Meaning more than a month in lockup and away from the business and jobs etc.)
I miss my children dreadfully. If you read my blog back in the early Sleepless in Samoa days, then you’ll know that those (demon) children are my life. So yes, I am somewhat bereft. Our house went from lots of noise, laughter, arguing, lots of people eating everything and making a mess, lots of people to clean up and share the chores, lots of people for me to pester with my book ideas – to only me, Darren and Bella.
It’s rather quiet here now. So what did I do?
I got two dogs. Puppies that now aren’t puppies anymore. First I got Ruby. Then when she was almost a year old, I got Red. They both live inside with us and now that I’ve been a two-dog parent for a year and a half, I have an announcement to make. A startling discovery. (Brace yourself.)
DOGS ARE BETTER THAN CHILDREN.
Before you try and fight me on this, here’s my reasons why:
1.Dogs adore you. Every minute of every day. Red’s entire being buzzes with excitement when he sees me. His face lights up, his whole body wags along with his tail and he is so obviously delighted to see me that it’s like I’ve been gone for a year. Instead of just to the store to buy bread. In the mornings, Red is exuberant eager for hugs and kisses. He jumps on the bed for snuggles and is just so very happy I exist. It doesn’t matter if it’s Monday or Sunday, Red thinks I’m wonderful. It doesn’t matter if I’ve brushed my hair or if I’ve written any books this month, Red thinks I’m the greatest human being on the planet.
Children on the other hand? Don’t. Maybe it’s just me and my children. But they often think their mother is quite uncool. Unfunny. Uninteresting. And certainly not adorable every minute of every day. Plus, they ask annoying questions like, “so why havent you finished your next book yet?”
2.Dogs long for your attention. Every minute of every day. As I write this, Ruby is lying under the table, asleep, her head on my feet. Red is beside my chair. Every now and again, he gets up to nuzzle my hand, so I can pat him and snuggle him. Whenever I go to another room, Red follows me. When Darren is getting ready to leave for work in the morning, Red tracks his every move, wants to ‘help’ at every step.
But children? Grown children in particular? Ha. I message them loving cheerful words and I’m lucky if I get a SEEN. On a particularly good day, I get a THUMBS UP. If it’s my birthday, I might even get (omgee brace yourself, drumroll, its so amazing you might fall down with the amazement of it) a HEART emoji. Yep. Those emoji’s are the pinnacle of my day folks. Is it any wonder then that a dog who follows me everywhere and gleefully embraces my every bit of attention – is a miraculous gift?
3.Dogs love it when you talk about them. You can write about them on social media and they don’t get mad. When these children were little, I blogged about them all the time. They were famous. (Well, as famous as Samoan demon kids could be when their mother had three blog followers.) Then they grew up and suddenly, they had rights?! It’s so annoying when children grow up to be assertive intelligent adults. Dammit. A right to privacy? Excuse me?! We’re Samoan. A right to not have everybody know what their mum thinks of them? Who said? Well apparently somebody somewhere who makes rules about parenting said I wasn’t allowed to write about them anymore. Or talk about them when I’m doing author things. When I did, I got death stares from them and condemned to the gallows of parental shame and failure. I had committed the greatest act of treachery.
This is what I don’t understand. What’s the point of having brilliant, beautiful, funny and fabulous children – when you can’t tell everybody about them? Or show off about them effusively? How else will people know that I’m amazing if I can’t tell them about my spectacularly amazing children?
It seems I signed a NDA about these children and nobody told me?! I’ll probably get sued by one of them just for writing this blog.
4.Dogs don’t care when you take photos of them. You can share pics of dogs with your friends and they don’t complain. Your friends might get sick of it, but your dogs sure wont. I get out my camera and Ruby comes to lick the screen. With enthusiasm. But when children see my phone come out? They hide, cover their face, forbid me to photograph them, bring up the dreaded topic of RIGHTS again. (So tiresome. I mean I know I raised them to CARE about social justice but can they just give it a rest when they’re talking to me? And it conflicts with MY needs? Eh.) When they share a photo of themselves in our family chat, they first make me blood covenant promise that I wont share it anywhere else. Do you know how frustrating that is? HOW WILL YOU KNOW IM TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT HOW STUNNING AND FABULOUS MY CHILDREN ARE IF I CANT SHOW YOU PICTORIAL EVIDENCE?! Eh.
It’s even worse when I’m trying to get family photos taken. Back before Covid days. Nobody wanted to dress to a theme or wear co-ordinated outfits, so we couldn’t be like those super preetiful families who have gorgeous photos taken where they all belong on the cover of the FAMILIES ARE FOREVER magazine. No. They all had to ‘be themselves’. Why did we have to have children who are all INDIVIDUALS? Eh. Then everybody has an opinion of the photographer’s pics. It was impossible to get everyone to agree on a family photo. They are worse than a bickering session of the UN General Assembly.
Meanwhile, I can take 100 photos with Red and Ruby, only post the ones on Facebook where I look good (never mind about anyone else) and they never get mad. They still adore me.
5.Dogs want to share everything with you. No secrets. No privacy. No limiting what you can see on their Instagram… Ruby shows me the sticks she’s chewed to a messy pulp – by graciously displaying them on the front doorstep. She brings me the dead rat she’s found in the garden. Never mind that it’s disgusting and smelly, or that I scream at her to DROP IT NOW! Red sits on you when you’re trying to read a book. When he goes to the toilet in the garden, he keeps looking over his shoulder to make sure that you’re seeing him do this WONDERFUL, GOOD BOY behaviour. They want me to join them in the hunt for lost chewed-up toys. They try to push me out the door so I will play with them in the yard. They (often mistakenly) assume I will be thrilled to see their every exploit and messy adventure.
I would complain more, except it’s a nice change from the children. Who when you miss them desperately and you ask them plaintively, ‘what are you doing? How are you?’, they tell you, ‘Oh nothing…’ But when you see their Instagram, they are living their best life, doing lots of fun fab things with their fun fab friends. Then when you make the mistake of messaging them, ‘I saw you went to XYZ with so-and-so! How was it?’ they then (probably roll their eyes far away in NZ where you can’t see them) do something mysterious to their social media accounts so that you think you’re friends with them, but really, you can’t see any of their updates. No sharing with you anymore. So yep, I am thrilled to bits when Red wants me to see the hole he’s digging behind the garage. These are the highlights of my life now. #sigh
6.Dogs feel your #sad. Even if they dont understand it. When I accidentally cut my toe on the wire fencing and shout OUCH! THAT HURTS (and say many bad words which I wont repeat here) – my dogs come running. Concerned. Worried for my safety and wellbeing. Then they insist on nuzzling at, licking and sniffing at my Bandaid and showing dog love to my injury for the rest of the day. Meanwhile Bella didnt hear my anguished shout because she had her headphones on. And she doesnt notice my limping or my bandaged foot because I’m just her mother and mothers are generally superhuman anyway. Eh.
7.Dogs need you. Big children don’t. Not really. Not if you’ve done your job properly anyway! The thing is, you raise children to be adults who can live their bestest lives without you. Who can be independent, happy and flourish without their parents. Humans who can forge strong nurturing and respectful relationships with others, who can take care of this earth and each other with kindness and vision. Who can be good people. Good to others, good to themselves. I am glad my children can live their bestest lives without me.
But I’m sad about it too.
And when I’m missing my big children, worrying about them far away in a pandemic, and Im generally wallowing in my sadness – Ruby and Red feel it. Somehow they know it. They sit with me. Lie next to me. Give me dog kisses. They be sad with me. I hug them and for a little while I am comforted. Because they are living their best life right now, here with me and Darren.
There you have it. The reasons why dogs are better than children. Do YOU have dogs? Are they better than children? Tell us why!
(An alternate title for this blog is – the lies we tell ourselves so we can survive closed borders in a pandemic…)