This is the sight that I woke up to this morning.
You know what? Never get a puppy if you’re not a morning person. My children know better than to wake me up before seven, but the dog has never quite got the hang of reading a clock. So at 5.45am, there’s a clicky-clawed dance on the wood floor, a lavish stretch, and then he plops his front feet on the bed and stares at me in a beady-eyed, stalkery way until I get up.
We’re trying hard to be model pet owners, so the kids and I get dressed and most mornings, take him out for dawn-of-the-dead type shuffle, all three of us looking like we need a double expresso. Only the dog is happy with the arrangement.
I’m not exactly at my cheery best. And this morning, I turned round and saw that my daughter, wandering in her usual dreamy haze, hadn’t noticed that the poor dog was trying to do a poo as she surged ahead making encouraging noises behind her.
I snapped at her. I pointed out at length the importance of watching what the dog was doing as opposed to being in dreamland. I offered to hold the leash myself if she wasn’t prepared to do that. My snarly, coffee-deprived brain outran my good sense for a moment, and as I looked at her downcast face I felt very, very ashamed.
We walked quietly for a couple of minutes and then I apologised for being so grumpy.
“It’s ok, Mum,” she said. “It’s not your fault.”
I was nonplussed. It was my fault, I pointed out. I overreacted.
“Well… yes. But it is and it isn’t. You probably have all sorts of stuff going on in your head. Different things you’re thinking about, worrying about. Maybe you didn’t sleep well. So you got angry over one thing, but it’s more a… what’s it called? A product of circumstance. So I get you’re not really angry at me.”
My daughter is eight years old. There are adults who aren’t across thinking like that yet. To be able to look at another person and know that there might be so much more going on than just the surface reaction.
I’m not a morning person. I snap. Sometimes, I overreact. There’s so much I get wrong.
But with that kid, there must be something I’m getting right.