Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Puppy Love

I think there is something preordained about the chemistry of college age offspring that requires them to bring a pet home to live with the family during their last summer of college. They are at once anxious to be off on their own and yet are feeling that urge to settle down - to nest - to look after something other than themselves. Yet, they are still ill equipped in many ways. Invariably they can't cope with their beloved pet and ask for help from one or both parents.

Mom and Dad have learned very well by then how to care for something helpless and unruly -- or at least better than their offspring has so far -- and those hormonal yearnings toward grandparenthood invariably start kicking up. So out of compassion for their son or daughter, or more likely the pet, they lend a hand...and then two...and then it happens.

The eager lad who brought the fluffy puppy home has so much to do and so little time to do it ...and, well, then Mom and Dad...half heartedly kicking and screaming...become, quite without their consent, afflicted...the inevitable occurs and they have fallen in love with the puppy.

I'm fairly certain this chain of events is preordained. Particularly for Mom. Just as she is beginning to feel the angst of being childless, the original love of her life offers her a replacement...making it ever so slightly easier for both of them...a little less painful to walk away from the bond they have come to depend on for meaning, purpose and identity. The child must subconsciously know that Mom needs a replacement and so, provides one, albeit quite without asking and quite indirectly. And there is his own need...to feel Mom is happy and okay if he lets go. When all is said and done, Mom holds the fluffy bundle of energy in her arms, preoccupied, just a bit, by his wiggling and nipping as she watches her son walk out the door.

It happens too often to be purely coincidence.

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