I'm almost six months into this being a big brother thing, and I have to say, it's not at all what I expected.
You being pregnant was the greatest thing that's ever happened to me. You spent extra time on the couch (read: cuddling). You even grew a perfect pillow for me to rest my head on. You told me you loved me, your firstborn, that you wouldn't love me any less when my perfect pillow gave way to a squishy, smelly, screaming, tiny human-alien hybrid (oh wait, I didn't know that part yet).
But, Mom, it hasn't been like that.
I've done my part. I've protected It from every single predator who's come to the door with my ferocious rooster-bark. I've sniffed out a million dirty diapers for you. And don't even get me started on how many crumbs I've cleaned off the floor when you couldn't be bothered to clean them up because you had It in your arms.
I was skeptical when you told me things wouldn't change -- or that they'd be even better! I'd get more attention! A new friend! More walks and more treats and more love!
Ha. Here's what I really got:
- A mystery. When you returned from your hospital vacation, you neglected to tell me It is there. I give you the welcome-home sniff, not noticing that my pillow is no longer attached to you. A minute later, It squeaks. WTF. Despite my best sniffing efforts, I cannot determine precisely what It is. Like a dog, but small and naked. Or maybe a big, naked guinea pig. Some similarities to the human species, but not many. Obviously you brought home an alien. Or worse.
- Banished. You went a little helicopter parent on me. That couch I loved snoozing on? Off-limits. Those oh-so-tempting blankets all over the floor? No dice. And all the toys??? NONOBADBOY. You want me to rest directly on the floor... like a dog?
- No human touch. Seriously, explain to me how one seven pound lump can prevent you from bending over the side of the couch to constantly scratch my neck. Really, Mom?
- A diet. I figure I'll drown my sorrows in my trusty Purina, but instead I'm staring at my reflection in the bottom of my empty bowl. Again. I assure myself that you just thought Dad fed me breakfast while he thought you did (because yes, I know I've played this the other way to my advantage before) but deep down, I know you forgot. Again. While It ate 37 times this morning.
- A vegan diet. After a couple days of staring at It, sniffing It and listening to those odd squeaks, why you would bring this thing home to me still doesn't compute. And then... It made milk! Like, real, white bubbling milk! It came right out, kind of projectile-style, and dribbled down to the floor. OMG. This is a game-changer. Obviously I trace back the milk to where it emerged -- and you hiss at me. NONONO. My dreams, crushed again.
- Groped. Those pudgy arms? Zero control. Like, they just do random, flailing things as I slick my ears back and brace myself. Everyone except It knows that petting a dog's fur backward is the most torturous act of all time -- but what do you think It does? And that time It looked right at me, grabbed my ear and yanked? OK, I admit yelping and running behind your legs for protection was not my finest moment. But dang, that thing can pull.
- Overworked and underslept. Big Brotherdom is hard work. I used to head to bed in my crate around 9, maybe 10 p.m.. But you and your maternity leave! Interrupting my sloth-like existence by being home 24/7. I try to bump bedtime by 15 minutes a day without you noticing, so pretty soon I was going to bed at 8... then 7... then 6. Now, if I'm not tucked in for the night by 3:30 in the afternoon, I'm going to feel it in the morning.
- Underappreciated. When my birthday rolled around, I didn't expect much. I knew if anyone even remembered, I wasn't going to get a party hat and birthday glasses and a candle like I did last year or a canned dog food taste test lineup like I did the year before. I was right. I mean, you did grab a can of something at the store, but I saw the label -- it was only filet mignon flavored. I choked it down, along with my pride.
- Aged. The biggest blow came two weeks later. You had to write down my date of birth at the vet and, surprisingly, you didn't even hesitate. But then you looked right at me and asked, "Are you only 7?! I've told everyone all month you were 8!" And then you texted Dad and Grandma to ask them. The shame.
Honestly, Mom, I've had moments where I considered listing myself on PetFinder. Or going to live with Grandma. But then It squeals at me and laughs, and I soften a little bit. I sneak a full-on lick to the face and relish in a dribble of sweet, sweet milk. Or I wait until you fall into an exhausted half-sleep while you're feeding It on the couch and slowly creep up beside you.
And lately, I've heard you talking about It eating real food soon, and how ever will you keep the floor around the high chair clean? I have an idea, Mom.
The Family Dog
(Photo of Waldo, the family dog, by Shuttersmack)