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Devlyn Brooks, Published July 12 2011

Parenting Perspectives: I’m still learning the game

You expect to grow wiser as a parent, but, oh, isn’t it humbling when your kids prove you wrong.

Three years ago our beloved dog Chuck died. He was a beautiful, rust-colored husky that became more than just a dog to the family; he was the soul of our family. And his loss still is palpable.

However, we still had Massey, our younger dog, who blossomed into a wonderful companion despite not having her constant buddy, Chuck, around. And we were happy.

From time to time, the kids would make weak attempts at luring me into another dog, but I stood strong.

Until a couple of weeks ago:

The boys were at their mom’s house, and later that evening I noticed I had missed two calls from Garrett, my older son, eliciting a bit of fear in me.

This is a teenager who thinks that all telephonic devices were created to check Facebook, not for calling one’s parents. … And I missed TWO of his calls!

I hurriedly dialed him back, but when he answered, he said, “Dad, Bug has something to ask you” before I could get out a word.

In hindsight, I should have been tipped off. The boys are at ages were sibling bickering has been honed to a sharp edge. They can’t even get along when I bribe them to. So why was Garrett helping his brother make a phone call? … But, at the moment, I was so caught up in my own hysteria that I missed the tell.

“Daddy,” the Bug came on the line in the drippiest, sappiest, most forlorn voice he could muster. “Can we please have a puppy?”

And in that moment of relief, while half my brain was figuring out that absolutely nothing was wrong with the kids and the other half was figuring out that I had just been duped by my kids, I said yes.

You see, their mom’s dog had recently had a litter of cocker spaniel puppies, and they were now ready to leave home. For eight weeks, the boys had been plotting on bringing one home. And for weeks, I had been fending off the jabs, staying resolute that we were fine as a one-dog family, pointing out that it was not the boys who take care of the pets we already have.

I ignored the pleas that they would do all the pet chores and that this puppy would somehow become a new-found source of peace between them.

But ultimately, their cunning won out. Garrett knew that if he caught me off guard, my defenses would be susceptible to the Bug’s “please, Daddy” attack. He knew that being a teenager, his cuteness had long since worn out, but that at age 8, the Bug can still work some magic.

And the two of them used it against me, humbling me in the process.

So we are a two-dog house again … but on the bright side, it’s the first time the boys have worked cooperatively on something in years.

Devlyn Brooks works for Forum Communications Co. He and his two sons live in Moorhead.