Lessons Not Learned

Last Monday, I woke up with a monster (I mean monster) headache. It was so bad that I wondered if I was hungover? Then I remembered I barely drink. A glass of wine or a cold beer with dinner is about my limit. But the night before, I had nothing to drink. My hangover might have been due to my dinner: a rotisserie chicken from Costco and a homemade salad in which I got carried away with some gourmet coarse ground sea salt. How sad is that? I had a hangover from chicken and lettuce?

When my alarm clock went off, the beeping sounded like a jackhammer in my brain. I slowly pulled myself out of bed. My head felt like it was going to explode. I had to get up to get my daughter to school. But I also had to check on the dog, as we’ve been having some issues lately. Initially he was crate-trained during the night hours, but a few years ago my youngest daughter begged for him to sleep on her bed. He is happier and she is happier with this new arrangement, but the deal was that she had to be responsible for letting him out FIRST thing in the morning when she wakes up. Otherwise, he will pee in the house.

My daughter was pretty good about this rule until recently. Now that she is a teenager (also known as a “power sleeper” and “zombie-like” in the morning), she can’t seem to remember to open the door and take him out. Or she doesn’t want to open the door and have to stand outside with him, because the weather has gotten kind of cold and rainy and this is simply too much trouble. So, instead, she has started to just wait until I come to get him out of her room. While she may think it’s fine to wait for me, I discovered that the dog has not been waiting. He has started going into her bathroom and peeing on her bath mat (which I guess is the closest thing to “grass,” since our house is all hardwood floors). My daughter claims she didn’t notice him peeing on the mat, and that he must have done it “after she went to school.” After I washed the bath mat THREE times last week, we had a whole discussion about this. I reminded her of her commitment and that she needs to take him out FIRST thing and wait until he does his “business.” She can’t make him wait 30 minutes while she wanders around aimlessly looking for her homework, sweatshirt, shoes, and wondering whether or not she needs her PE uniform on that day.

So when I found her completely dressed, and the dog still sitting on the bed, I started yelling. (I know. I know. I do a lot of that when it comes to my teenage daughter and repeating myself.) Why didn’t you let the dog out? What were you waiting for? Didn’t we talk about this 10 times over the last two weeks? Why are you doing this to him? Why are you not listening? What were you thinking?

She just shrugged her shoulders. The “shoulder shrug” is like international code for: “I’m 13. It’s Monday morning at 6:45am. I’m tired. I don’t want to go to school today. The dog is fine. He’s still on the bed. Why are you yelling? At least I am awake and dressed.” (Keep in mind, no words were actually uttered by her, just the shrug...)


I took the dog outside in the damp cold air myself. In my bare feet. Just wearing my tee-shirt and underwear. I knew it was going to be cold and the ground was wet. My head was pounding. The dog needed to pee… and for some perverse reason, I thought the rush of cold, damp air would cure my head from the incessant pounding.

I was wrong. Now I was just cold and wet, with a throbbing headache... and I had to pee too.

I went inside. Fed the dog, emptied the dishwasher, made her breakfast and packed her lunch. (All of these things are my daughter’s responsibilities, but she is always running too late in the morning to do any of them. Somehow I think I am still teaching her a lesson by doing all these things before she even arrives in the kitchen? I know the joke is on me.)

While driving my daughter to school, I apologized for yelling at her. I quietly explained that I lose my temper when we have the same conversations over and over again. The ones like: Do your homework, pick up your wet towel off the floor, tidy your room, don’t watch TV in the shower and let the dog out... so he doesn’t pee in the house.

She stared at me rather blankly and simply said, “I accept your apology.”  


So here we are a week later. I went into her room this morning and she was up and dressed, but the dog was still on the bed and had not been taken outside.  Clearly, no lesson was learned. 

I, silently, picked up the dog and took him outside for his morning business. I, then, proceeded to empty the dishwasher, feed him, make her breakfast and her lunch and finish another load of laundry.  

Clearly, no lesson was learned by me either.