Christina M. Currie
Christina M. Currie's Touch of Spice column appears Fridays in the Craig Daily Press. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig I've mentioned before that I think the skills I'm learning to train our new puppy would translate nicely into training children (and men).
I say that mostly because food is the primary motivation in this technique, which I've noticed is a huge incentive for children and men.
But, I'm learning there are limits and vast differences.
My children, for instance, are the apples of my eye when we're in public. I constantly hear, "you have such well-behaved children, the things you write can't be true."
On the other hand, I've been telling people how smart and well-behaved my new puppy is. I swear it was true until our first night at puppy preschool.
In a room full of dogs, he was the only one barking and howling and had to be bribed with massive amounts of food just to distract him.
With dogs, the number of distractions equals quality of performance.
Children, on the other hand, perform better with an audience.
I just don't get it.
Actually, I do, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. I want my dog, and my children, to be well-behaved at all times.
Realistically, I don't think there are enough tasty treats in the world to make that happen.
But I still can wish.
We went for a walk last night. My goal was to wear the girls and the puppy out.
Turns out, I was the one who needed to sit down and rest when we were done.
First the dog. He was great for the first leg of the trip, but once we started heading home, he decided enough was enough, took the leash in his teeth and "encouraged" us to pick up the pace.
I spent the entire trip back chanting " bup, bup, bup," pulling him back, stopping and turning in circles.
Anyone watching would have seen quite the amusing show. Luckily, it was pitch black, so there was no audience.
Which brings me to the girls. Eight-year-old Katie was terrified because it was pitch black and because there were traces of lightning on the horizon. Six-year-old Nikki was not terrified, so she kept walking out of my sight, which terrified me.
Whether it was because of curiosity or to stave off fear, Katie did not stop asking questions the entire way.
"Why doesn't lightning make a sound?"
"Why is it called the big dipper?"
"What would it be called if one of the stars fell out of it?"
"When a star falls down, does it get bigger?"
"Why do they have that big gate?"
"What's the black stuff on the road called?"
"Do clouds burn when lightning strikes?"
"What if you don't want to say 'their property'? What do you call it then."
Trying to keep a puppy behaving, keep a 6-year-old in sight and answer questions more diverse than the categories on jeopardy, was a bit overwhelming.
A bit! What an understatement.
I couldn't even go through our nightly bedtime ritual. I walked in the door and barked bed, then parked on the couch.
I love that time we got to spend together and would do it in a heartbeat, but I think every now and then, I'll make it a nature walk - something silent and observant.
And, I'll tell them if they can do that, I'll buy them ice cream.
Bet you a dollar they do. I told you, kids respond to food, too.