Tuesday, November 01, 2011

babies, sharing, and dogs

Let me just put it this way. When my one year old is sitting in her highchair and she reaches for a piece of food, my also one year old labradoodle very diligently sits with rapt attention.  Yes, if you've put those pieces together you have realized that my baby is feeding the dog, the other baby in this house, from her highchair.

We have been trying very hard over the past year to teach our puppy to sit, wait, leave it, and drop it. The first two we have down pat. The third is hit or miss. The fourth however seems to be a lost cause. Once he has something he'll run for his life with it.

And because we like to up the ante, we also now have a baby in the house again who speed crawls EVERYWHERE looking to get into everything.  We are working teaching her where she can go and what she can play with versus what she can't. i.e. please don't tip over the dog's water bowl because here is a giant bin of toys to play with right here. When we say no, no, no both the dog and the baby look at us. Fun times.

Then there is that quandary about the fact that my baby has no friends.
I mentioned this briefly in this post here about her birthday and frankly not much has changed. She still sleeps much of the morning during her only nap of the day and then we madly run errands after lunch but before our first of two school pick-ups. Her older sibs haven't left her much time for afternoon play time or naps which at times takes its toll during, say the hours between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm. You know what I mean if you have a wobbly little one in your house too. While I can't really say she lacks in socialization because she has a brother and sister who spend gobs of time with her, but the harsh reality is that she totally lacks a peer group. The kind of peer group that is going to snatch a toy from her hands, wildly upsetting her, but teaching her how to interact with people when you are not necessarily calling the shots. You know, that thing called sharing, which as adults we can tell who has mastered and who hasn't.

But over the past week I have realized that perhaps she isn't lacking in this kind of experience. Yesterday she was sitting quietly playing with her stacking cups when I heard a desperate scream from our little baby. One we don't hear too often. I ran over to find the dog giving me that guilty-dog look with a purple plastic cup hanging out of his mouth. Ahhh so she does have a playmate who is snatching her toys. But unfortunately, this friend will shred her toy in matter of minutes. So now I am trying to shout drop it, drop it Parker, drop it! over the screams of the slighted child and finally have to resort to ripping it out of the dogs mouth while admonishing him for stealing said toy.

This morning I woke up long before everyone else and spent a quiet morning with the baby. After she gulped down her sippy cup of milk (cuz we are DONE with formula AND bottles - yay!) I set her down on the floor to play while I put the news on the TV. And like most mornings she went straight to her favorite toy. A set of wooden blocks with Chinese characters that my brother and sister-in-law sent to her. After catching up on a few minutes of traffic and weather, I looked down to see my gorgeous little girl sitting with a pile of wooden blocks between her spread legs, kindly offering one to the dog. And I know I won't surprise you when I say, he gently took the block, gave me a sheepish glance, and slunk over to his dog bed. And yes, I am now once again repeating the drop it, drop it Parker, drop it! mantra. I extracted the block from the dog's mouth, told him it was a leave it, offered him one of his own toys, and then returned the block to Cici's pile. And two minutes later I saw the whole thing repeated. My natural response was to tell Cici, no while shaking my head indicating those blocks were NOT for the dog. But then I realized she was sharing. This was the equivalent of her playgroup friend that she was offering a toy to hoping it would get returned at one point. These are the same exercises that all little toddlers go through as they learn how to identify what is theirs and how to share. This leaves me in the difficult position of trying to rid my one year old dog of bad habits while trying to instill good ones in my one year old baby. Oh boy, didn't see this coming. Any advice out there from dog and human mamas alike?

1 comment:

Charity, Gary, Katie and Louie said...

Shan, that is a tough question. I don't know what I would do. The block exchange is just so sweet I wouldn't want to stop it completely. I wonder if you could add a new twist to the game...like a chain of sharing. CiCi gives Parker the block then Parker gives you the block and in exchange you give him a delicious salmon treat. Good luck! I'm sure I will have similar dilemmas soon.