Katie Marsico is a proud mommy of 3 human children— Maria, 5, C.J., 3, and Thomas, 18 months. She is also the happy guardian of several furry, finned, and scaled pets.
Marsico has happily written for Tails since its inception in 2000 and is the author of more than 60 children’s books. She works from home, which is located in Elmhurst, Illinois (though she hopes that address will one day be changed to a location in southwest Florida).
School Days, School Days…
As was probably the case for many Tails fans, the end of August was filled with an ironic blend of both upheaval and peace in our house. My oldest two kids returned to school, and our living room was a sea of markers that needed labeling, spanking-new pocket folders, and unsharpened Number 2 pencils. Getting into the groove of both their post-summer schedules was an inevitable challenge, but then came the lull following the storm–in certain respects anyways.
I had naively anticipated a few moments of calm in the fleeting moments that my toddler decides he still needs a nap. I was wrong. Our Poodle mix, Isetta, has been a live wire since C.J. and Maria have been gone part or all of the day. She has no one to chase her, annoy her, or play with her. Well, no one except moi and my 18-month-old (who simply isn’t as quick on his feet as his siblings yet).
Boomer is generally sedentary most of every 24-hour cycle but lately has begun begging to be carried up the stairs at odd hours. (Usually, we only hoist his extremely overweight Beagle-Basset frame to the second floor at night.) Now he whines to be transported morning, noon, and all the random hours between then and when the sun sets. He consistently heads to my middle child’s room only to exit a few seconds later, looking confused and somewhat anxious.
Even our aging Chihuahua is yipping and yapping with greater frequency and for no good reason. And, it goes without saying that Maria is more preoccupied by what kind of gum her friend was chewing after school than her pre-arranged responsibilities of feeding and watering her menagerie of reptiles and rodents. Naturally, all this begs the question of whether there is a plus side to sending mini-guardians away to learn and play every fall. Thankfully, there is.
For starters, I now have time/space to snuggle on the couch with Bridget while I watch the afternoon news. Just as importantly, I recently had a few extra hours to write about Boomer and the bond he shares with my middle son (who is special needs) for an upcoming feature article for Tails. As for Isetta, she’s still fairly insane no matter what I do, but my husband has increased opportunities to take her jogging at night because the kids–undoubtedly worn out from all that reading, writing, and arithmetic–are hitting the hay a bit earlier. Oh, and Maria and I have done up a chore chart that involves her feeding and watering her wide array of God’s creatures, regardless of how tired or disinterested she feels after practicing phonics.
The moral of the story here? Animals aren’t just bumps in the road that guardians travel when their progeny return to school. They’re active participants in the adjustments that occur on the home front. They care about where we are and when we’re coming back, and, though they might enjoy temporary relief from little gnome-sized creatures tugging on their tails and accidentally tripping over them, they miss them (and don’t miss them) as much as the moms and dads who wave at the bus as it rumbles away.
As a celebration of this aspect of the human-animal bond, I have started leashing Boomer up and bringing him into our front yard so that he can greet Maria and CJ the minute they get home every day, tail wagging and bulbous body swaying from side to side in gleeful anticipation. Not only are the kids delighted to receive such a warm welcome–Boomer is relieved to bring them back to the common turf where he’s learned to live with and protect them. Oh, and of course there’s the added perk of me giving the false impression that I can wield a leash and retrieve children at the same time. Now I just have to figure out if anyone makes doggie snow shoes wide enough to fit his fat feet once the kids start trudging home in freezing temps and snow flurries . . .