Productive people take time off

The best thing about going to a rural school is that there are not really vacations. I’m not sure why. Maybe because we had bazillion snow days. Or maybe it’s because no one needs two weeks off to go to Bermuda in March. Or maybe it’s because kids need to get out of school early to help with crops. I am not sure. But what I am sure about is that school vacations are for rich people. They are for people who can take time off from work with financial impunity or, if they are brave enough to admit that vacation is torture for parents then they can afford to do stimulating stuff like a custom tour for your kids of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This is a picture of me deluding myself that I was working last week:

But of course I was not working. I was doing Passover which means dealing with the family’s withdrawal from our bread addiction. This would be a good time to have a photo of some gross, unleavened food that I made for dinner one night during Passover, but I mostly just spent the week stressing having the only Seder in our county (yes, we imported Jews for the Seder) and having three days off for Easter (yes, the school calls it spring break and then passes out Easter eggs to my kids).

I was in denial the whole time about having no time for work. And when I don’t blog I actually start to feel lonely and disconnected. As if when I’m not writing, my life is not really happening.

Tuesday was going to be my first day in five days that I did not have the kids home with me, but the dog bit my son’s eye. This would be a good time for a picture of his eye bleeding all over the house while our big dog cowered in the corner and our little dog licked up the blood.

Later, in the hospital, after the second pediatric ophthalmologist checked out the rip in the tear duct, I said to my son:

“What were you doing with the dog?”

He said, “I was showing him my strongest Pokemon cards. But on the last one, I think he wanted it.”

My son had bites on his leg and his head as well. The dog tried to kill him, I think. I mean, I just try not to think about it. We put the dog to sleep. That was a hard lesson for the kids.

And for me. I used to think dog breeders are evil and there are enough dogs in the world and we should all go to dog shelters. Now I think dogs are like babies. You want to know what you’re getting, and it’s not always the most ethical, humane thing to bring more life into the world, but it’s what we do. And I want a purebred. I want to know what I’m getting into before I get into it. I know, no dog is certain, like no kid is certain. But kids and dogs are like playing the odds. I picked a smart, good-looking guy to have kids with, and I want to control the ingredients for my dog, too.

At the end of the day, we are exhausted. I watch The Social Network with the Farmer and I want to be Mark Zuckerberg and I think, I am messed up that I want to be a twenty-year-old guy. But let me tell you something: worrying about a gazillion-dollar company is so much easier than worrying about a kid.

The Farmer cannot stay awake for the movie, so I watch it alone. Then I get into bed. It’s late, but the farmer wakes up.

Farmers always get up early for chores. It’s non-negotiable even though when I took care of baby goat I proved that completely erratic feeding does not kill animals. Sleep is sacred on a farm and the only thing farmers wake up in the middle of the night for is sex. He says, “How was the movie?”

I take that as a mating call and do not answer. Instead I say, “Remember the flea bites I was telling you about? Look. I got another.”

He lifts up my shirt to check for bites.

I tell him that the bites are on my arm.

Probably now he is wishing he had just stayed asleep. But I told him, once, or maybe a million times, that talking to me and caring about my feelings is good foreplay for me.So maybe this is why he says, “We had fleas in our house every summer when I was growing up. And no one complained as much as you. I thought you said you have high pain tolerance.”

“Oh my gosh. Your mom had to deal with four little kids with flea bites?”

“No. Just three. Fleas don’t bite men.”

“Wait. You just told me I have low pain tolerance and you have never been covered in flea bites? Are you nuts? What about child birth? Do you think you could handle that better than me, too?”

“Okay. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It’s just that I can’t believe how much you go to the doctor. People in the country wait ’til their arm falls off to go to a doctor.”

“You think I’m excessive?”

“Well, look at the bite. It’s next to the thing that you think is cancer.”

“Oh yeah. That’s right. Look at it again. Has the shape changed? Do you think it’s cancer?”

He looks. He genuinely looks to see if the shape of my cancer has changed into a more cancer-y looking cancer spot. He says no. It looks the same. He says, “You should have a doctor look at it because that makes you feel better.”

That makes me feel so loved. So I reach over to my nightstand and get the foam stuff that we are using for birth control ever since I told him I had been lying to him about using birth control.

So I fill the applicator thing with foam, but the applicator is a dyslexic nightmare because I can never remember which part fills and which part pushes out the foam.

I squirt the foam and it’s the wrong end of the tube and it flies everywhere. Most notably covering the wall and the ceiling. I look over at the Farmer. His head is under the sheet.

I say, “What are you doing?”

He says, “You always make a mess — I didn’t want to get squirted.”

We have sex while contraceptive foam drips down the wall. I can’t write about the sex because the Farmer really wants us to have some part of our lives that is not on the blog. Not that I really understand intimacy. I’m trying, though.

The thing is that he is so good at sex and so annoying about keeping our morning routines on schedule, but I’m left to write only about the annoying part: the next morning.

The kids get to school, the farmer leaves to do his own chores, and there I am, stuck on the sofa. I can’t move. I tell myself to do my to-do list.

I stand up. Find the newest issue of the Atlantic. Read about Tiger Moms and wonder how Tiger Moms stay awake when their kids are at school. I go to bed. I wake up and tell myself I will have coffee and do my to-do list. I bring the coffee to bed and fall asleep next to it.

When the coffee is cold, when I’m awake, I drink it and eat more bagels and then lay on the sofa telling myself I can’t say I’m leading an honest life if every time I cannot cope with my life I eat a bagel to avoid having to think of what to do next.
I eat another bagel to confirm that I am leading a dishonest life shrouded in bagel consumption. And by the time the kids come home, I hate myself not just for eating bagels all day, but also for getting nothing done.

Now, a day later, I look back and wonder why I didn’t just take a day off. There was too much. Too much taking care of people, too much medical drama, too much trying to work and not working. What I really needed was a day in bed with coffee and the Atlantic.

The only way to really get things done is to be in touch with how we are feeling and what we need. I wish I had been able to do that in the moment. But maybe seeing clearly in hindsight is a good step to seeing clearly in the moment, next time.

This would be a good time for a picture of me relaxing. But all I have is a Buddha that Melissa left for me to remind me to relax.

69 replies
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  1. terri
    terri says:

    So this is what you need to do…on every school vacation where you are farm-bound, announce that between the hours of x and y are Mommy’s vacation time. Closed (and locked) doors help.

  2. Erika
    Erika says:

    I laughed out loud at the image of the farmer hiding under the covers to avoid the foam.

    And I’m very sorry about the dog. I hope your son is all right, and that both of them aren’t too traumatized by the entire thing.

  3. Natalie
    Natalie says:

    I always eat like that when I need time off, and I always think to myself afterwards – why didn’t I just have a bath and read a novel instead of trying to work and getting stressed and eating a whole loaf of bread? But here’s the funny thing. Whenever I have planned time off I can’t relax and spend the time worrying about how best to fill it. I end up trying to do too much non-work stuff (galleries, exercise, decluttering, whatever) and not fitting it all in and getting stressed. And the eating thing happens again!
    You’re right that it’s about listening to yourself and what you need. But for me it’s also about having enough structure to not have to make decisions about what I should be doing all the time – I find that very hard. (I too have kids and animals and work at home.) But I should add that I’ve always avoided too much structure, and the idea of having the same routine every day totally freaks me out, so I suppose it’s about trying to find a balance!

  4. Lestamore
    Lestamore says:

    I have days like that way too often, but usually without the excuse of the extremely stressful week. I guess I am glad to hear that other people have them too. You and I are both lucky we have mostly stable lives and excellent supportive men to make bouts of not-being-able-to-handle-it a bit easier. Now if only I was rich enough that my man could take a day off.

    And I am sorry your week was so stressful.

  5. Stacy
    Stacy says:

    I am so sorry about your son and the dog. I hope your son is alright. When my children were young our dog bit the babysitter and we had to put the dog down. It was hard on everyone.

  6. Meg Flynn
    Meg Flynn says:

    I love that you said that about dogs. My husband and I spent nearly a year and $2000 to buy a 2yr old purebread dog and my friends though we were crazy and evil when we could have adopted from the shelter. But we found a reputable, responsible woman who loves dogs so much she breeds them and paid a lot of money so we knew what we were getting. Our dog isn’t perfect by any means, but we enjoy her. Our friends on the other hand are constantly frustrated and angry with the dogs they saved from pet stores or adopted blindly.

    I want to save all the animals in all the shelters, just like I want to save all the lonely people in the world. But that doesn’t mean it’s smart for me to be a friend to every lonely person out there or adopt a dog that will wind up hurting my family.

    All that being said, I am very sorry that you had to put your dog to sleep and that your son was hurt. Those are both awful experiences to have!

    • Casual Surfer
      Casual Surfer says:

      Hi Meg. I’ve found the exact opposite in my circle of friends. The people who have bought purebred dogs are always exasperated at the dogs for doing what comes naturally to them (herding, barking at anything new, requiring 7 hours of fetch a day). But all my friends with mixed breed dogs are totally enamored of the dogs we have. I think our expectations were lower, we didn’t expect a perfect dog because we didn’t pay big bucks for them. And the dogs are so grateful to be off the street or out of the pound, they are pretty trainable.

      I’m glad you love your purebred pup. If you ever want another purebred, check the shelters. They have lots of them.

  7. KateNonymous
    KateNonymous says:

    First, I’m glad that your son seems to be recovering from the dog bites. Second, I’m sorry that you had to put the dog down–that cannot have been an easy decision for any of you, based on what you’ve written in the past.

    And breaks are rejuvenating, because your brain is doing something different, which brings new perspective when you come back to work. That’s true if it’s two hours or two weeks, just to different degrees.

    I think my first boss should have recognized that. I took a lot more breaks, and got a lot more done (and done well) than the people who she liked because they ostentatiously kept their noses to the grindstone.

  8. Brigitte
    Brigitte says:

    So I clicked over to comment on this post, because I can totally relate to feeling aimless when you’re left with too much unstructured time. And then I saw that you have an add for the Sims up! That game is my bagels. Just last Sunday, I felt so guilty for wasting an entire day on the game.

    Moral of the story, buy the sims (but maybe not medieval, it looks not-so good).

  9. tde
    tde says:

    If you think getting a pure-bred dog will less the chances of bites, you are very, very, very misinformed.

    The key is training and socialization, not recorded bloodlines.

    Please don’t get another dog until you educate yourself about the subject.

    • Vmed
      Vmed says:

      I think you misread. Penelope said she was seeing that dogs are like babies, and she wants to have more input into their makeup. And one way is to get a good breeder, who has been paying attention to temperament, health, and the early socialization of puppies. Remember she got big dog as a rehomed adult. She didn’t have any control over his socialization, and she got him because he seemed to really love kids.

      Breeds have great probability of displaying certain behaviors. Plenty of behavior is genetic- see domestication of foxes. Newfoundlands love kids, golden retrievers are friendly and like to carry things in their mouths, huskies love pulling sleds.

      Mutts can be great, but they are wild cards. As can be rescued adults. You can not know what will trigger a dog who has an unknown history.

      P, sorry to hear about the whole situation. It wasn’t your fault.

      • tde
        tde says:

        I was responding to what she wrote, not what you imagined that she wrote. She said: “You want to know what you’re getting, and it’s not always the most ethical, humane thing to bring more life into the world, but it’s what we do. And I want a purebred. I want to know what I’m getting into before I get into it. I know, no dog is certain, like no kid is certain. But kids and dogs are like playing the odds. I picked a smart, good-looking guy to have kids with, and I want to control the ingredients for my dog, too.”

        Again, the idea that a “purebred” whose “ingredients” you can control is less likely to be aggressive or bite than a mutt is quite simply very, very wrong.

        You seem to share this attitude with your “Mutts can be great but they are wildcard” comment. A “purebred” can be a wildcard, too. It all depends on the socialization and training.

      • Vmed
        Vmed says:

        @ td:

        I’m glad that you agree that mutts are wildcards and that dogs with an unknown history are risky.

  10. Erica Peters
    Erica Peters says:

    Here’s a tip from my life coach. When you can’t get started on a task, just set a timer for 25 minutes. You want one where you can hear it ticking, but if the ticking is too loud, I put it in a drawer to muffle it. Tell yourself “I can do this for 25 minutes. It’s just 25 minutes.” Don’t do anything else (no email checks, no answering the phone) – until the timer goes off. Then make sure you stop working and congratulate yourself. Get up, stretch, have a bagel – you deserve it!

  11. Kristi
    Kristi says:

    What a week. Very sorry your son was hurt. Dog bites are so complex and painful to everyone emotionally and of course physically. It's never easy.

    I don't think purebred vs. shelter dog makes a big difference really. Regardless, it's a way to control things a bit more but that's up to interpretation. I think with kids and dogs age is more the key for both of them. I'd also say training and temperament of the dog are the other key factors. Puppies and kids aren't always the key but sometimes they work great. It really depends on both factors. Since you're in a rural area check out the local 4-H dog programs available to you and the boys.

    I do think its fine to go to a breeder as long as it's a reputable one. A good one will take the dog back at any time, require that you have the pup fixed, and can show you the parents or representations of other litters not just photos. Also, a good breeder will also focus on temperment and know their pups.

    I also like shelters that work with rescue groups who have foster care programs. The pet is placed in a home environment and the foster parents have a good idea of the dog's temperament. They actually look for triggers and since the pet has ended up in "the system" so to speak its going to have some issue sometimes its very minor but its their job to find it. This can really help control the odds of finding a good future home. Hopefully your son won't have any dog related fear issues because of this. Good luck! Here is a great site for learning more: they even have an app for smart phones. You want to go to the library section and search away.

    As for the fleas get these products and no more flea issue. Frontline Plus for the dog and or cats if they come in the house at all. I highly recommend that you only buy from a veterinarian and never use over the counter prodcuts. Some are very dangerous. The pet is the carrier of the fleas into the house but the people can pick them up from the yard as well. Next treat the yard near the house. I use Bayer Advanced Complete insect killer for soil and turf. It's granular time release for the 3 months and takes out ticks and fleas plus a bunch of other junk, follow the directions. You don't have to live with fleas, really and they can be annoying!

    If my farmer father can learn new skills so can your farmer:) Tell him times have changed and fleas have got to go!

  12. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    Your dog story is really sad.
    I hope your son heals well soon.
    I can understand yesterday being a down and unproductive day for you. It’s nearly impossible to tell our brains to do something on command and respond in a certain way under certain stressful circumstances. We are human after all and things just need to be sorted out and dealt with in our own time frame.
    I really like the Buddha. I think part of it is where it’s placed … next to the “huge” lamp!

  13. Kolene
    Kolene says:

    Dog story tragic but I could not feel the full force of the story because I was distracted by the perfectly pink room! I kept scrolling back up to the picture and wondering what color pink that is and if I took my computer down to Lowes home improvement store would the color scan machine beable to detect the pink to recreate it. So I hope your son is okay and sorry about the loss of a pet, farmer hiding great visual but for goodness sakes what color pink paint is that.

  14. Harriet May
    Harriet May says:

    I’ve wasted so many days. I usually spend them unshowered and in running clothes because I tell myself I’m going to go running and then spend the day eating instead. I never let myself think it’s ok to take a break from exercise, even when I waste the day avoiding it.

    As for birth control, I have a contraceptive implant in my arm because I will not bother doing anything that takes even the slightest bit of extra effort. I mostly don’t even take my contact lenses out at night. I will be blind, probably, by 30. But not pregnant! (Even though America is messed up, I am sure I will save the $400 to get a new implant. I can’t cope with foam.)

  15. Bill
    Bill says:

    A very thought-provoking post. Melissa sounds like a great friend, too.

    OK, not Buddha, but Confucius say:

    “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.”

    – And I think a lot of us need to learn things the hard way! And I think it’s best not to beat oneself up too much about it.

  16. Susie
    Susie says:

    So sorry about you son and putting a pet to sleep is very tramatic. Raising a puppy (though they are so much work and can you say paper training?) really has a large influence on what kind of dog you will end up with and when you get an adult one from the pound, sometimes you just can’t tell what you are getting. Some forms of temperment are inherited, but there are individauls in the different breeds but really, how they are raised and socialized makes all the difference. Good for you for trying though and most people, especially parents will never fault you for not making that choice again.

    @Bridgette – Sim’s mediveal isn’t bad but really isn’t the same as all. Much prefer the regular sims (still have all the expansions for Sims 2 on my computer and have Sims 3 upto date to).

  17. Irving Podolsky
    Irving Podolsky says:

    I dunno, P, maybe it’s a Jewish thing. But I have trouble just relaxing too, like time is THE most precious thing not to waste, right after food, and so if I’m not filling it, I’m not pulling my weight. I’m not trying hard enough. I’m not GOOD enough. Oy vay!

    And then, like you, I discovered sleep, like in naps in the middle of the day, which I have now made into a required activity like exercise, which is kinda like WORKING. And now that napping is considered WORK, and something I must do to work even more, I “spend” precious minutes to do it and fall into Unconscious Land where my Jewish brain won’t chew up my recharging process. In fact, I just woke up from a nap in my office. Do I feel like working NOW? Not at all. That’s why I’m writing in your blog!

    I don’t know how I get anything done, but I do. And so do you. Lots of stuff! Keep writing!


  18. Sandra Pawula
    Sandra Pawula says:

    Sometimes it takes so much to get to the logical conclusion, but the fact that we get there offers us so much hope: “Now, a day later, I look back and wonder why I didn’t just take a day off.”

    I’m sorry for all the intensity and troubles you’ve had recently. I would have needed a day off too.

  19. Erica
    Erica says:

    Very powerful next to last sentence — “The only way to really get things done is to be in touch with how we are feeling and what we need.” So true — otherwise we will just procrastinate or find some other strategy to get that need for time off met. I find that when I don’t try to “force” things in my life and when I take little breaks in my day happen things flow so much better. Thanks for the reminder.

  20. Ash
    Ash says:

    How is your son doing? How is his eye? Hope he gets better soon and thank you for posting about this. (Also, I am jealous of the Farmer’s amazing sex abilities!)

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      You are all so nice about my son. Thank you. He’s going to be okay. A small scar. But honestly, he is completely terrified of the idea that he’d ever see the dog again.


  21. Dean
    Dean says:

    Everyone needs to take a chill pill every once in awhile. Mine is a quick ride on the Harley or a couple hours fishing. Be glad there are no tornados passing through and your family has made it through another bump in the road…and that the farmer still wants it in the middle of the night!

    What is on your to-do list…would love to compare it to my own?

  22. William Gomez
    William Gomez says:

    Your writing is wonderful. Where do I go to get 2 copies of your recently published book? Do you sell signed copies? Want them for my daughters who are starting up careers.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Oh. I forgot to say it was Melissa taking the photos. She is here. Yes. I am thinking about how to write about that she is here. I think Monday I’ll write about that. She moved back here from Italy. I am so happy. There will be fun pictures all summer.


      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        Ask good questions, listen, take copious notes, and follow Melissa around with your camera this summer.

  23. Joselle
    Joselle says:

    I’m sorry your son was injured by the dog and I’m glad to hear he is ok. As someone whose worked in shelters and lives with a shelter dog, I must second tde in their comment. Pure bred dogs can injure or kill a child. Since you weren’t there when your son was attacked (you had to ask what happened), the problem wad lack of supervision. Your dog
    Wasn’t in the house long enough to be left alone with he kids and I don’t know how he was trained and socialized. I strongly urge you to not get another dog until you realize a pure bred solves nothing. Heed the last sentence of this post to prevent future trauma.

    • Casual Surfer
      Casual Surfer says:

      Joselle – you are so right. Some purebred dogs are line-bred, meaning they breed close relatives together. It can result in some beautiful animals but it can also result in some of the most messed up temperaments I’ve ever seen.

      All that said, a lot does hinge on the socialization & training of the dog. And I don’t think Penelope is a good candidate to raise a puppy. I’m not being mean, I don’t think I’m a good candidate either (I work too much). Puppies need consistency – the baby goats lived through an irrational feeding schedule but a puppy can’t thrive with unpredictable schedules for eating, playing, and going potty. They need consistency to build trust & confidence. They also need a LOT of time every day – not just on good days or days when you feel up to it. But every day.

      Pen – reconsider getting a puppy, it may not be the solution you are looking for. Perhaps a young dog from a rescue that uses foster homes … plus obedience lessons at home for you, your boys, and the Farmer. If your boys learn how to teach the dog good behavior & tricks it totally changes their relationship with the dog for the better. It’s also a great confidence booster for kids to learn how to teach a dog to do things on command.

  24. NetWriterM
    NetWriterM says:

    I happen to agree with your thoughts on pound dogs. We’ve had to put several of them down, they proved to be impossible to save (even with medications, training techniques, caring vets and animal behaviorists).

    My father has been receiving death threats (seriously!) from people due to their rescued beagle’s baying. Which can happen with a purebred, but rescues often require more attention and the outcome is uncertain.

    We have purebred labs now. They have been the BEST dogs. Very very gentle with our baby now toddler.

    But since you did not see the attack, do not rule out that your son may have moved in the wrong way or done something that fed the situation. Kids sometimes are unaware of how an animal is reacting to them.

    I know my toddler doesn’t think twice about plopping down on top of our 11 year old lab’s back. Our lab? Takes it and looks at me with anxious eyes to come save her, but other breeds and other dogs may not be so tolerant or patient.


  25. Catherine
    Catherine says:

    I agree with knowing what you’ll get in a dog if you have young children who can bug a pet to death (they all do it) so the right dog is very important.

    My ex husband got my son a Decker Rat Terrier who was returned to the breeder because she hated the sound of guns and he used his Decker Terriers to hunt deer and brush birds.

    Boonie (our girl) was very afraid and timid when she came to us, but my ex understood the breed and said she’d be perfect for our son who could also be timid in certain situations at that age.

    She is the best dog ever and has come into her own with my son. It’s like they both became brave through the years together. Now my son plays football and she tells other dogs to stay away from her boy. She is a wonderful creature who still hates guns. She will still growl at the TV when a program has shootings.

    I was glad my ex understood what kind of dog would be perfect for our son, and I am also glad my ex rescued a dog who had been returned to the breeder.

    I hope your son’s heart and eye heel quickly.


  26. Patrick
    Patrick says:

    I hate to say it, but you made a big mistake. There are a lot of places that dog could have lived, without children. He did not have to be killed for one mistake. Isn’t the answer to put him outside and not have the kids play with him alone? Or give him to adults?

    This is not a good lesson for your children. This exact same thing happened to me when my dog bit me at age 8, and I felt so guilty as a child, that I have never gotten over it. Especially since, and I bet this is the case with your son, I did something to agitate the dog. It is not a reasonable expectation that you have given yourself, or your sons, that life is risk-free and that animals should not react to humans when they agitate them. You put the dog in your house, but you don’t seem to know anything about dogs. You have taught your children to go kill an animal that made a mistake, even though the mistake was yours too.

    • Catherine
      Catherine says:

      Patrick, in some states you do not have a choice when an animal has bit a child, especially in this case where with a single incident, the dog bit the child more than just once.

      You have to think about what the dog will do next time — to a strangers child.

      California Civil Code section 3342 provides as follows:

      3342. (a) The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.

      In Arizona: “the owner is virtually an insurer of the dog’s conduct” (Massey v. Colaric (1986) 151 Ariz. 65, 725 P.2d 1099, 1100, interpreting Arizona’s identically worded dog bite statute), a responsible dog owner is expected to be vigilant in preventing his dog from biting anyone.

      A New Jersey man was scratched by a dog. He sued and won, based on the one-bite statute, because he proved that the dog’s owner knew of the dog’s tendency to jump up and scratch people.

      Where I live, if a child under 18 visits a doctor or a hospital for a dog bite, animal services is automatically brought in to the case and the owners are contacted for an assessment. Animal control requires the owner to submit the dog for testing, if the dog does not pass the test, or this is the 2nd bite incident, then the dog is put down by animal control.

      They live on a farm — possibly a very different environment from yours where there is also risk that this dog will begin attacking livestock next — not to mention the risk to other children.

      I think they did what they had to do.


  27. Sherry
    Sherry says:

    You have an amazingly distinctive voice. I am in absolute awe, and really looking forward to reading your book — if it ever comes!

  28. yo
    yo says:

    I realize that the topic of this blog post was on productivity, but I have a comment on intimacy.

    You say you don’t really understand intimacy. Perhaps it’s my “European sensibility” but I found the whole bedroom scene, from the talk about leaches and cancer and all the way up to the squirting of contraceptive foam on the ceiling and walls terrifically intimate upto the point where erotic begins. Knowing and responding to each others needs, habits and preferences, that’s intimacy in its purest form for me. More so than receiving sordid details about “the deed”.

    But maybe you were talking about not understanding physical intimacy?

  29. Liane
    Liane says:

    This was sucha great post I read it twice. All ranges of emotions and all real stuff.

    So glad your son is ok. I hope his wounds, internal and external, are healing.

  30. Laura Brown
    Laura Brown says:

    Your son being attacked by your dog is horrifying. I am so sorry that happened and relieved he is okay. I have kids and dogs–my heart goes out to you.

  31. Lesley
    Lesley says:

    I’m so sorry about your dog and what happened to your son. That must be terrifying for him, but I’m glad you have another dog, so he hopefully won’t develop a fear of dogs.
    I just want to chime in on the purebred vs. mutt debate. I think mutts can be great dogs–we’ve had purebred Airedales and several mutts. The purebreds have been high-strung and demanding (but very loving) with huge health issues–mostly because they’re Airedales. Our mutts on the other hand, have been much smarter and trainable. We did have problems with one running away–because she was a mix of two herding breeds with nowhere to run and nothing to herd. Even with mutts, the breed makes a huge difference. German Shepherds are a more aggressive breed. I live upstairs from one–he makes me nervous and my 70 lb. dog is terrified of him, but I feel really safe in my building (someone would be nuts to break in with him here!). Next time you get a dog, be it a purebred or mutt, a puppy or a rescue, really research the breed(s)! Some dogs are just a better mix with kids.
    Again, I’m sorry you and your son had this experience. And your other son, too–it must be hard on him also.

  32. Marc Roston
    Marc Roston says:

    I’m surprised about the comments about the “difficulty” of killing the dog.

    Pet ownership is a bad emotional option trade.

    Everyone says “My dog is well trained and good with kids” with the same confidence they said “My house price won’t fall”. Then, they act shocked when the animal bites someone, and their house is worthless.

    If I had a dog, I’d say “Don’t touch my dog, he’s a carnivore who only gets fed twice a day when I say so, and he’s genetically programmed to attack animals smaller than he is, like your kid”.

    That way, they can be pleasantly surprised when the dog is friendly and nice, but I warned them, (and I knew my house was worthless!)

    (I can’t stand talking about putting dogs to sleep. P, you must know what it’s like to talk to your kid about surgery when they’ve heard “doctor” and “sleep” means “dead”…it makes them scared!)

  33. JB40
    JB40 says:

    hmm….all good except I don’t think parents truly get a day off, ever. That’s kind of why I work–at least that way I get time off from being a parent. Do I feel guilty about that? No–not any more. But I will get persecuted for saying that in my affluent suburb with lots of stay at home parents.

    But the part that resonated with me most is about the dog. I too wanted to rescue a dog and not be a limousine liberal with a purebred goldendoodle or whatever. Well, fast forward to the dog going after my daughter…that was it, we gave him back. I felt a little guilty about it, until last week when my daughter came home with an almost-haiku about her view of it:

    “Beware of Dog”
    His name is Charlie.
    A yellow lab puppy.
    Not good with children.

    The best though was the picture of a sweet little girl next to a cute dog saying “GRRRRRRR”

    Kids are perceptive.

  34. Erika
    Erika says:

    Penelope, have you thought of looking into a service dog, or a “failed” service dog? Your son’s asperger’s might make him eligible for one–and a dog who’s been trained to work w/ special-needs kids would be less likely to react poorly if he was startled by unexpected behavior.

  35. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I discovered a blog by a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.) at . She lives in the Black Earth, WI area based on her web site info. She also has two highly rated books listed on Amazon. Her ‘About Us’ page at her web site ( ) states she “has made a lifelong commitment to improving the relationship between people and animals. She is known worldwide as an expert on canine and feline behavior and dog training, …”. So her last two blog posts ( and ) have been about inbreeding in dogs. Good write ups with a lot of good comments worth checking out. Socialization and training of the dogs are the most critical in my opinion whether they are a purebred or not.

  36. Jim C.
    Jim C. says:

    I believed you are absolutely right about shelter dogs. Sometimes you get a good one and sometimes you get a nightmare.
    A few years ago we got a puppy from the Humane Society. He was great most of the time but could turn vicious without warning. We returned him. We found out that his mother was a feral dog and he hadn’t met people until the dogcatcher captured his mother. She wasn’t a people-friendly dog and he turned out to be unsuitable for a family. Live and learn.
    You don’t need or necessarily want a purebred one, though, and certainly not an AKC pedigreed one. We have had great luck with ranch puppies. We know their breeds (approximately) and we know their parents. There are probably some farmers in your part of Wisconsin who from time to time have puppies to give away.

  37. Samar
    Samar says:

    You write about sex in quite detail.. don’t you think it is inappropriate, as when your kids grow little more.. they will read it or their friends may tease them about their mom’s sex life

  38. m
    m says:

    Try a pure breed 20-lb west highland terrier, an easy-going, even-tempered dog that is still a good “guard dog” barker. Ours is 13 1/2 years old, travels well as veteran of many hotel and car trips, cuddly, low maintenance, non-shedding and non-allergy provoking, and yes, our 16-year-old son with aspergers has happily co-habited with him for those 13+ years. Truly seems to be perfect dog.

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