Friday, November 2, 2012

Parenting fail - When a seemingly good idea goes terribly wrong

Some ideas are far better in theory than in practice. Take, for example, the morning I thought it would be a phenomenally awesome idea to try to walk the dog while pushing Brenna in her stroller to school.

This is our dog, Nola.

 She is beefy, strong, sweet and, above all, dumb. Due to equal measures of insufficient brains and lack of leash training, she is miserably awful on a leash. So bad, in fact, that the one time we tried to take her running with us, she ran into a signpost. Head first. Clunk! Yeah, not the sharpest tool in the doggie shed. For a while, I was regularly walking her when I would take Brenna to school in her stroller, and she got moderately better at leash walking (as long as I used a choke collar and kept her on an extremely short leash). Then we moved into a house with a yard and leash walking apathy took over. 

This is our cat, Luna. (yeah, we have a thing for names than end in 'a' - NolA, LunA, BrennA...)

He is a cat, which pretty much says everything you need to know about him. Actually, he is still a kitten - approximately 5 months old.

So here's the story: We had a “good” Brenna morning - meaning she got dressed and ready without a significant meltdown, and we were out the door on time. Maybe even a little early. As we walk past the yard, the dog runs up to the fence, and I think, 'hey, why don't we take Nola with us?' 

So, I say to Brenna, "Hey, why don't we take Nola with us to your school?!" Brenna thinks this is a great idea. This should have been a sign to me - if your 2.5 year old thinks something is a great idea, it probably isn't.
For example, hugging a dinosaur generally isn't considered to be a good idea...
I lock the stroller into place and run back to the front porch to get the leash. Leash in hand, I run over to the gate to the yard and realize that the choke collar is not on the leash. Oh well, I’ll just hold tight and keep her on a really short leash.

The dog is beside herself with excitement that she is actually going to get to go for a walk and is jumping in circles as I try to clip the leash onto her collar. Leash secured I open the gate and the dog lunges forward with the force of a Mack truck. Hint #2 – if the dog nearly pulls your arm out of the socket, maybe it’s not such a great idea to try to walk the dog while pushing a large, somewhat unwieldy, jogging stroller.

I wrestle the dog into (temporary) submission, wrap the leash around my right arm/hand, get both hands onto the handle of the stroller, release the brake, and off we go down the sidewalk. Brenna is singing. The dog is straining and trying to go mach 3. And I am digging my heels into the concrete to keep control of both the dog and the stroller.

Enter the cat. Luna sees our entourage and the fun we are having, and decides he wants to join the party by following us down the sidewalk. We get to the corner of our street, which intersects with a busy street. Cars are whizzing by and I think that the cat will certainly turn around and go home. We wait for a break in the traffic and I push the stroller out into the street. The cat follows. I back up onto the sidewalk. The cat continues out into the street.

Cars are coming. Holy cr@p! The cat is going to get squished for sure.
The experience will scar my child for life and we will end up spending a fortune on therapy and psychotropic medication to help her cope.

I lock the stroller in place and lunge out into the street to catch the cat. Nope! The cat darts across the street. Gets onto the sidewalk and stops dead in his tracks. Apparently he has never crossed the street before and now he looks like he can’t figure out what he is supposed to do next. A kitty idea light bulb goes off in his brain and he darts back across the street and up the sidewalk toward the house.

Whew! Disaster averted. I get a hold of the dog’s leash, take the brake off the stroller, cross the street, and we continue on our merry way. Me pushing, Brenna singing, and the dog trying to make my right arm 6 inches longer than my left.

About 40 second later I hear a jingling behind me. Did I mention that the cat wears a collar with a little bell on it? Well, he does. I look down and there is the cat trotting along side of us. Awesome. Not. Unsure of what to do, I continue walking thinking that for sure the cat will turn around and head home soon.

We turn the corner onto an even busier street and the cat trots along beside us, darting in and out of bushes. I look ahead. The next corner will require that we cross 5 lanes of insane traffic. I am beginning to wonder what made me think that walking the dog and pushing Brenna and owning a cat, was such a good idea. Then, I it occurs to me that the cat will follow us the entire mile to Brenna’s school (assuming he doesn’t get squished by a car in the process) if I don’t do something to stop him.

I look at Brenna and say, “Sweetie, we are going to have to go back to the house”
B: Why mommy?
Me: Because we need to take Luna home so he doesn’t…um. We just need to take Luna home.
B: Why?
This is not the time to play 20 Whys so I ignore the question, drag the dog around 180 degrees, and hope the cat follows us. Sure enough, he does. The dog clues into what we are doing and starts to try to drag me and the stroller back down the street.

We struggle down the street. The dog pulling, the cat darting in and out of the bushes. We need to get across the street. There are too many cars to assume that the cat will make it across in 3 dimensions. I wonder what I can leave behind. Not the stroller and child. Not the dog. Not the cat. What the H3LL was I thinking??
I grab the cat and scoop him into my arms. Needless to say he is not thrilled with this turn of events and he immediately starts doing kitty gymnastics in an effort to get away. I grab the dog’s leash and the stroller with my one, semi-free hand, clutch the squirming, clawing cat in my other arm and push the stroller with my chest while the dog drags us across the street. The cat is trying to crawl onto my head by way of my face. 

Cars are passing and there is a car stopped on a side street trying to turn onto the busy road, witnessing the entire fiasco. The driver watches me in either horror or amusement (I couldn’t tell which) as I wrestle with the dog, cat and stroller.

Once on our street I let go of the dog’s leash and concentrate on getting the cat and the stroller back up to the house. The dog has run off and is frolicking in the front yard.

Finally, we make it to the driveway. I park the stroller facing the house (back of the stroller to the street) and put the brake on. Then I take the howling, struggling cat and dump him onto the front porch and close the door as fast as I can. He immediately starts to howl even louder like someone set his tail on fire.

Just as I close the porch door I hear Brenna yell “MOMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEY!” I whirl around and the stroller is nowhere to be seen.

Then, CRASH!
A house alarm starts to blare.

It is 8:30 in the morning.
My neighbor across the street and comes out in his pajamas, coffee in hand, to see what the racket is all about - just in time to see Nola take off running up the street with her leash dragging behind her.

Above the din of the house alarm and the screaming cat, I can hear Brenna “MOMMMMMMYYYYYY! MOMMMMMMYYYYYY!” I am certain she has rolled down the hill and back onto the busy street I just saved the cat from. (Even though, by the laws of physics, this is utterly impossible.)

My head is spinning like I’m possessed, as I try to look everywhere at once in order to locate the source of Brenna’s crying.

I finally locate Brenna and the stroller. The stroller has rolled backwards in a straight line (according to the laws of physics) across our street, crashed into the curb and our neighbor’s trash and recycling, and fallen over onto its side with Brenna still strapped in. I am officially the worst parent in the world.

In the end, the dog was captured by my neighbor and returned to the yard. The house alarm (not ours) stopped of its own accord. The cat was unperturbed by the whole thing and continued to howl like he was on fire.
And Brenna was fine other than a bit shaken from her unintended roller coaster ride across the street.

When all was said and done, I seriously considered having an alcoholic beverage. I’m sure it was 5:00 somewhere in the world. Right?


  1. awesome. I need a drink now just for knowing a mother that allowed her daughter to go freewheeling across the street. Backwards.

    1. i'm just getting her ready for her down hilling career. Never to early to start, you know.